Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Left overs never looked so good ...



When I think of Christmas and Thanksiving, our big turkey days, I look forward to two things. The first is spending the day in the kitchen making a gourmet meal to share with friends and family and the other is left overs. Oh to dream of turkey sandwiches ... cold slathered in mayo and pepper or hot dripping in thick juicy gravy. Makes your mouth water just thinking of it.

It also reminds me of a little place that I used to like to eat in. It was a little cafe down some stairs on Fort Street here in Victoria. It was owned by a friends sister and she made the best turkey panini I have ever eaten. It's been a long time since I've eaten there, now that I can't eat anything on the menu and now that they've moved to a new location, however, I still remember their food fondly.

What better way to use up some left over turkey (sadly, a rare occurrence around here) then to make the best gluten free turkey sandwich ever.



Turkey Sandwich

1 Gluten Free Focaccia Bread or Chick Pea Bun from Panne Rizo
Some left over Turkey
1 tablespoon of Cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon of Mayonnaise
A handful of fresh Spinach
1-3 slices of Provolone Cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Simply layer the ingredients like so: mayo, turkey, salt/pepper, cranberry sauce, spinach and cheese either between two pieces of focaccia bread or open faced on a bun and grill (or broil) until all the cheese is melted. Yum.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays / Nourish / Eggnog

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you all had fantastic Christmas's, Hanukkahs, and Boxing Day Sales ... what ever it is you celebrate. I was away in Calgary and Banff until Christmas Eve. My boyfriend's family mostly lives in Calgary and there was a Christmas wedding that we were all invited to, so I got to go with them and meet a whack load of people. The trip was great, except I managed to get a bit of food poisoning right before we were supposed to go snowboarding in Banff. So while everyone else was having fun on the slopes, I was sleeping off my sickness. I did get to go to a spa though, which was fantastic. Everyone I met in Calgary was super nice and I had a great time.

The Christmas wedding was very nice too and the bride was also a Celiac, so she understood my food needs and we both had special plates for us at the wedding. I was actually a bit surprised that not all the food was safe for her to eat, but at least she made sure that she had food. You wouldn't want to go starving on your wedding day! If I ever get married, everyone is going to be eating gluten free and they will probably be shocked at how yummy eating gluten free can be.

In fact, when we were in Banff our party also had one vegetarian (my boyfriends brothers girlfriend). Having one vegetarian and one celiac in the party made it a bit difficult for the others to accommodate our diets, but they did a great job of doing so. We were, however, in utter shock when we discovered a vegetarian restaurant that served wheat free / gluten free food. Of course, we had to go! This restaurant in Banff, is called Nourish. We had the whole place to ourselves as Tuesday night is a slow night for them. The food is served Tapas style and is beyond yummy. We had nachos with 27 different toppings (rated number 1 in all of Alberta, and I can see why!), yam tenders, shepards pie, stuffed roasted red pepper, yam and apple soup and ravioli. The ravioli was the only thing I couldn't eat. Even the boys in the group were amazed at how good everything tasted and my boyfriend commented on the fact that it was the first meal in a long time that he left satisfied but not bloated. I think he has some sort of food intolerance but we don't know what it is and he's too stubborn to find out. That's a whole other story though. I highly recommend Nourish if you are Celiac and are travelling through Banff.

Since it is the holiday season, there is a lot of eggnog. I love eggnog, but since being diagnosed I've never been able to figure out if it's safe for me to eat. That and since discovering that I'm also lactose intolerant and soy milk makes my throat itchy, I don't have a whole lot of options. I here that Lactaid makes eggnog, but I can't find it in the stores around here anywhere. So what's a girl gotta do to get a bit of eggnog around here? You guessed it, make it herself!

I searched the web on how to make your own eggnog and tried a few recipes out. One of them is a raw recipe which doesn't really taste like eggnog at all, but it did taste quite yummy. I think it just needs some tweaking with the spices to make it more like eggnog. If you'd like to try it, you can find it here: http://thriveonlive.blogspot.com/2008/10/raw-nogg.html. Then I tried a cooked eggnog recipe. The only problem is you have to cook it very slowly or you will turn your eggs into scrambled eggs and that isn't very appetizing. Mine turned out quite yummy when I adjusted the spices but it had little tapioca like beads at the bottom of it, which is probably from cooking it too high and were easily strained out using cheesecloth. So if you can find pasteurized raw eggs, I would recommend that version. I just haven't been able to find pasteurized eggs yet.


Cooked Eggnog

6 Eggs
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 cups of Lactose Free Milk (or Almond Milk)
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves

In a large saucepan beat eggs, sugar and salt together and then stir in 2 cups of milk. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and lightly coats a spoon. Remove from heat and mix in the remaining milk, vanilla and spices. Chill overnight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perogies

When I was growing up I hated perogies. No offense to my Mom of course, she was just following the instructions ... take from frozen, plop in boiling water until they float and done. They were so bland and chewy I despised the days that we had them for dinner.

Then one day when I had long moved out from home my roommates made perogies and they were delicious! They taught me that in addition to boiling the perogies, you then add them to a frying pan with sausages or bacon and onions and lots of butter and fry them until golden brown. They then soak up some of the flavour and become quite tasty.

Another time I went to my friend Abel's and he showed me another way of making yummy perogies. He bought the ones that were filled with pizza filling and then cooked them up with sweet Thai chili sauce. They were super tasty.

For the longest time after being diagnosed, I didn't even contemplate perogies. They were a thing of the past. Then I saw that a local (well Vancouver Island) based company was making them. But for $14 a package and the package was 1/3 the size of what regular perogies would come in, it was a hard bite to swallow. I did it once just as a treat but that was too expensive for me. Then I started seeing blogs about gluten free perogies and had to try it myself. They turned out pretty well. I based my recipe off of "The Celiac Husband" blog, but did not have access to the flour mix, so had to change it up a bit. My boyfriend, who is the ultimate test, loved them. I cooked them up with Hertel gluten free chirozo sausage, butter and onions to give them that special kick.



Perogies
-Adapted from The Celiac Husband

Dough

1 3/4 Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum
2 large Eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon of Sour Cream
1/2 cup of Water
Butter
Salt and Pepper

Filling

1 Russet Potato
1/2 cup of shredded Applewood Smoked Cheddar
2 tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup of Goats Milk
1 teaspoon minced Garlic
1/2 small Onion

In order to make the filling, boil the potato in a small pot until tender. Then mash in the butter and milk to make it like mashed potatoes. Add in garlic, onion and cheese. Set aside.

For the dough, place flour, beaten eggs, and Xanthan in a food processor and pulse until well mixed. Then add sour cream and water and pulse again. If the dough is sticky, just add more flour, if too dry add more water. Form dough into a ball and refrigerate for one hour (or more). Roll out the dough on a floured piece of wax paper and use a large cookie cutter to cut out individual perogies. Remember that gluten free dough doesn't stretch very well so you can't pull the dough over the filling very well ... instead you need to make bigger dough cut outs.


Once you have your circles of dough you can fill them with one or two tablespoons of your filling. Place the filling in the center and then fold the dough over pressing the edges together. Place the perogies in boiling water until they float and then transfer them to a frying pan with melted butter, onions and sausage (or bacon) and sautee until golden brown. Serve with sour cream and voila, yummy perogies!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Julie and Julia

Bacon, Mushroom and Leek Quiche

December 8th marked release date for DVD Julie and Julia. I'm sure the foodies out there have no need for a description of the movie, but just in case I'll start with a brief synopsis. Basically it's a story of two women told simultaneously. The first is of Julia Child, the famous French Chef, who
was not French at all and how she got her start to a most amazing cooking career. The second is of a writer who decided to honour Julia and challenge herself by cooking all of Julia's recipes from her book and blogging about it. This movie shows two amazing stories of two amazing women who adore food.

Baked Apples with Brie and Rosemary

To celebrate this and to break out of my own shell I held a Julie and Julia party. I used to love hosting dinner parties, but they never really worked out for me. The food was always great, that wasn't the problem, the problem was that no one would ever show up. I would invite a lot of people and cook for 10 or more and then two people would show up at my doorstep. It was very disheartening and after a while I started leaning away from dinner parties. I stopped all together when I was diagnosed with Celiac. I could barely figure out what to feed myself, let alone groups of people. I also lacked the confidence to try new things and feared that what I now thought tasted good, would not appeal to those who can eat gluten. Then I started making up other excuses, like my basement suite is too small and there aren't any windows so who wants to hang out in a dungeon? My boyfriend told me that was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard. He was right. The later reason's were pretty lame. So when I wanted to watch Julie and Julia on DVD and didn't think my boyfriend would want to I decided it was the perfect excuse to have a girls night and to shed that doom and gloom fear I had of making people gluten free food.

Easy Cheese Log
(I substituted Mayo for Sour Cream because that's what I had on hand)

I think I probably could have picked a better night to host the party, one that wasn't surrounded by major events on either side that would take away from my prep time, but I chose the day that Julie and Julia came out on DVD to host the party. I did a little bit of research and read in a few places that one of Julia Child's favorite dishes was Quiche, so I pulled a Julia Child's Quiche recipe and adapted it. I also heard that bruchetta was featured in the movie so I made some of my own (although now that I've seen th
e movie, I'm going to have to make a much better version, because I nearly drooled all over myself when I saw the movie version). I also read that she was famous for her Queen of Sheeba cake. Since I didn't have the time to attempt a brand new version of her Chocolate Almond Cake, I made a similar chocolate cake (that I've featured on here before) in order to make a gluten free mimic. I think one day I'll try and make the official gluten free version of Julia's cake though. I also served a few other appetizers, salad and veggies.

Gluten Free Bruchetta on Silly-Yak Harvest Seed Bread

So many things could have gone horribly wrong. The food could have turned out to be a disaster (which is why I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to serve food you've never made before, but I seem to forget th
at every time) or no one could have shown up or no one could have gotten along. Luckily for me, everything turned out just right. I great mish mash of my friends that have very little in common got together and conversed as if they were long time friends. I love that. The food turned out quite well and the movie was great. Plus, some of them brought Virgin Kiwi Mojitos to drink, which were excellent and I will have to share that recipe with you at some point. They were delicious.

If you are newly diagnosed, it may take some time to
build up confidence in your abilities to cook gluten free well, but it will happen ... and when it does, it will be glorious.


Bacon, Mushroom and Leek Quiche
-adapted from Julia Child and Terri Gruss

Crust:

1/2 cup of Cold Butter, cut up into pieces
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 large Egg
1 tablespoon Water
1/4 cup Almond Meal
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
3/4 cup of Sweet Sorghum Flour


Filling:

1 pound thickly sliced Bacon, cooked and diced
2 large Leeks, thinly sliced
5 Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon Thyme
8 ounces Smoked Gruyere Cheese, shredded or diced
2 large Eggs
1 large Egg Yolk
1 3/4 cups of half-and-half

Start by making the crust. In a food processor combine butter and salt until smooth. Next add egg, water, almond meal and gf all purpose flour and pulse until smooth. Then add sweet sorghum flour until mixture starts to form a ball. Remove dough from the processor and place on a lightly floured (gf) wax paper. Dust the dough ball with more gf flour and cover with another piece of wax paper. Refrigerate this for a minimum of one hour. After it is chilled remove it from the fridge and keep it between the two pieces of wax paper and roll it out to fit a pie pan. Once it is the appropriate size, remove the top sheet of wax paper and gently turn upside down onto the pie plate. Peel back the remaining waxed paper, fix any gaps and remove any access and then pinch the edges to make it look nice. Bake this shell in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.This can be done ahead of time and refrigerated in plastic wrap for a few days or frozen for a few months.

While the crust is baking you can start on the filling. Cook up bacon in frying pan or Gorge Forman Grill (but save the fat). In another frying pan, using a few tablespoons of bacon fat, fry up sliced leeks and shitake mushrooms until lightly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add bacon and diced cheese. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs and heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Once the crust is ready, place bacon, mushroom and leek mixture on the bottom of the pan (on the crust). Then pour the egg mixture over top. Bake this in the oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

One way to make a difference ...

The word potluck almost always makes me cringe and run in the opposite direction. I used to love potlucks. With a minimal amount of effort you were able to enjoy copious amounts of food and if it was done right it was glorious glorious food. Potlucks can be tricky things as sometimes everyone brings desserts or chips and dip and there is nothing substantial to eat. That used to be my biggest concern. Now potlucks are scary because I don't know what's in the food and because of the potential cross contamination. Contamination is huge. People without allergies are constantly sharing utensils and combining dishes in order to be helpful, not realizing they are now making something you could eat into something you can't eat.


One way to make a difference is volunteering to be involved with the organization. For instance, we have had two potlucks at work recently and I normally avoid them like the plague, but this time I tried a different approach. The first potluck was a pancake breakfast. We had a sign up sheet and I volunteered to bring the pancake mix and a coworker who knows me well volunteered to bring gluten free sausages. There was fruit, bacon and various other dishes brought. Some of the dishes of course contained gluten, but there were enough that didn't (including the pancakes) that made it possible to get full from breakfast and not be bloated! I used Pamela's baking and pancake mix, which is my favorite and I had several people ask me after wards what I used because they wanted to go out and by the same mix. See gluten free doesn't have to mean taste free.


The second potluck was themed. Again as
I had a hand in it, I requested Mexican theme as certain cultures naturally have more gluten free options than others. Mexican and Indian cuisine have lots of options, where as Chinese food does not. At this potluck I requested that everyone in the office fill out place cards for their food items. I found them through Gluten Free Girl and Beneficial Design. They are at the bottom of this page: http://beneficialdesign.com/glutenfreegirl.html. You can print them off and have them at your next potluck event. They have the name of the food, who made them and what major allergen is present. It makes it a lot easier to figure out what you can and cannot eat, and find the person who made it to double check. There is always the risk of cross contamination at home when the food is being made, but it's a start. Another trick was that my co-workers let me start on the grill first, so that I could use my corn tortillas first before they cooked with flour tortillas.

My co-workers went from knowing very little about gluten free food to knowing quite a bit. They are always interested in learning more about it and asking questions. At least they are very good at pretending to be :) I'm very grateful that they are as understanding as they are and always trying to incorporate my diet as best they can.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Steamed Milk Alternative

Not being able to have gluten is my major limit, but I have others. I can't have lactose, soy milk, chocolate or caffeine. That can limit the types of hot warm beverages quite significantly, especially when going to cafes. Yes, there is always tea, but since I try to avoid caffeine I'm limited in the types of tea and some teas contain barley, so you have to be careful what type you order. Sometimes I just want a hot chocolate.

Hot chocolates are what almost everyone craves or talks about on those cold blustery days... days where you get soaked running from your car to the front door, days when your fingers are numb from cold and snow, days when you can barely ope
n your eyes because the wind and hail are shattering against your face. Once you are inside the first thing I think of to warm up (other than a hot shower) is hot chocolate. I then immediately bemoan the fact that I can't have it anymore. I'm sure I could come up with some hot carob alternative, but the other night I came up with something even better. It's so simple and yet so good. Next time you feel like a hot drink to warm you up, try this:

Steamed Milk Alternative (aka Almond Amarula Steamer)
-Serves One

1.5 cups of Vanilla Almond Milk
1 shot of Amarula

Use what you have on hand, a pot or espress
o maker or a milk frother. I own a stove top milk frother so I just threw in almond milk and amarula into it and slowly heated it until boiling (without burning it) stirring occasionally. Once it was hot I removed it from the stove, pumped the frother top and voila I have steamed milk. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and/or nutmeg on top to decorate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Creamy Chicken Chipotle Soup

With the days growing colder and the daylight hours growing shorter, we start slipping away from the light cool meals of the summer and move towards the heartier warmer meals. I equate it with hibernation and survival back in the caveman days when we needed to stock up and bulk up to survive the winters. We don't need to do that anymore, but it's ingrained in us. It's also partly to do with what is available for food at this time of year and partly a comfort thing. A warm steaming cup of hot cocoa or bowl of chili or bowl of soup really hits the spot when you are coming inside from the cold.

Several years ago, pre-diagnosis, I went to a pub on Granville Island in Vancouver and ordered soup. I'm not a soup or salad person in general unless it's gourmet. I love rich creamy flavourful soups and exotic salads. I never really was a big fan of canned soup. It's probably a good thing, since its nearly impossible to find canned soup that is also gluten free. It's not a big loss for me.

Every now and then I think back on that soup I had in Vancouver and wonder how it was made. The other night I tried to figure it out. It's not quiet what I had or remember having, but it's still pretty tasty. My boyfriend tried to go for thirds until I slapped him away and said that some of it was for my lunch the next day. I think there is still something missing even though it's quite tasty. Perhaps you could try it and see if you figure out that missing magic ingredient?


Creamy Chicken Chipotle Soup

8 Chicken Thighs (one package)
1/4 cup of Salted Butter
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 tablespoon Mince Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
2 stalks of Celery, sliced
1 Leek, washed and sliced
1 cup of sliced Brown Mushrooms
3 cups of GF Chicken Stock
1 cup of Goats Milk
2 heaping spoonfuls of Sour Cream
3 tablespoons of Bob's Redmill GF All Purpose Flour
2 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (or more if you like it spicier)

To start, cook your chicken thighs in a Gorge Foreman Grill or in an oiled frying pan until no pink remains. Dice them up and set them aside. While your chicken is cooking you can start working on the soup. In a large pot melt your butter and then place in the onions, garlic and cumin. Stir until onions are soft and golden. Then add in your mushrooms and leeks. Once the mushrooms are tender add the chicken and followed by the liquids (chicken stock and goats milk and sour cream). Stir occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Then in a small bowl or cup mix your 3 tablespoons of GF flour with 3 tablespoons of water or more. Just enough to make a smooth paste (so it doesn't get all clumpy in your soup). Add this to your soup and stir in well. Next throw in the chipotle peppers and stir. Continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes until soup has thickened slightly. Remove peppers from the soup. Now it's ready to serve. It seems to taste even better if you put a dollop of sour cream in the center. Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are you having a Celiac over for dinner?

Photo By: Nik Frey

Are you welcoming a Celiac into your home either for a short term dinner party or longer term house guest (or regular guest)? Are you terrified of cooking for them? I’ve been asked by my friends and family on several occasions to help them help me when it comes to feeding me. I’ve always tried to find some helpful resources, but there aren’t that many around. All the resources are geared towards people who have Celiac and have to make major changes in their lives, not those who are merely entertaining the Celiac. What follows, hopefully, will be a helpful guide to those who want to cook for their gluten free friends.

The reason we try to be so careful with our food, is because when the smallest spec of gluten enters our bodies, our bodies register the gluten proteins as enemies and our immune systems step in. While attempting to attack the gluten our immune system also attacks our intestines, which results in all sorts of various symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach ache, etc. That is the short term results, the ones that last for a few hours up to a few days or weeks. The long term effects come from continually being exposed to gluten and continually having your intestines attacked. Long term effects begin with signs of malnutrition due to our non-functioning intestines no longer being able to absorb the nutrients in our food. They also lead to higher chances of developing Colon Cancer and other such lovely things.

Have I scared you? Good. Since Celiacs don’t react as severely as someone with an allergic anaphylactic reaction it’s hard for some people to take us seriously and insist that it’s okay to cheat or think that we won’t notice that spec of bread crumb that fell on our plate. In fact, some Celiacs are guilty of this, but they are usually the ones who aren’t as sensitive as others or don’t get symptoms at all. Me, I’m the super sensitive type who reacts to the smallest bit of gluten.

Now that you know the level of care that needs to be taken, let me tell you how easy it can be! It might take a little extra care, cleaning and reading, but feeding a Celiac can be done.

Cooking:

  • Clean, clean, clean. Using soap and water is usually sufficient, but if you feel like using something stronger, like bleach, feel free. Clean all working surfaces (counters, tables, cutting boards, stove tops, around your sink). Clean any utensil, pot, or dish that you are planning on using. Although the dishes may be clean in your drawers and shelves, these can easily (especially utensil containers) have crumbs in the bottom or corners, so it’s safest just to assume everything you use is dirty and wash it (if you plan on using) right before you use it.
  • Go back to basics. The easier the recipe and the more home-made it is, the easier it will be to make gluten free. Celiacs can eat fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and cheese (not pre-shredded), rice, corn, soy and potato products. The fresher the better, the less processed the better.
  • Read labels. If you are using anything that has a label, read it. Even if you think there is no way there is gluten in it, there probably is. My Mom swore to me that there was no way there could be wheat in Twizzlers until I showed her the label and it was listed third on the list (I think). Things such as hash browns sometimes have wheat added in the flavourings (such as McCain country style hash browns). So read read read. What you are looking for is anything that says the following: wheat, rye, barley, commercial oats & triticale, as well as, H.V.P. - Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, H.P.P. - Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Malt flavouring, Malt, Modified wheat starch or other unidentified food starch. If you are unsure of an ingredient, you can double check it at the Celiac.com website which has an Unsafe Gluten Free List. If you’re ingredient isn’t on the list, you’re okay.

Baking:

Try to remember about cross contamination. Cross contamination is the biggest culprit for upset stomachs. Most people try their hardest to do something special for their Celiac friend like make them cookies with gluten free flours, but then forget that the butter was from the butter dish that had crumbs in it, and that they often put their flour coated measuring cups into their sugar bags when cooking normally without cleaning them. So if you are going to bake for your Celiac friend, try to remember these few tips.
  • Use only new or uncontaminated flours, spices, butter, and other such ingredients. Does your child like to drink milk straight out of the container after a nice yummy sandwich? Maybe try a new carton of milk.
  • We aren’t supposed to shop in bulk bins, due to the possible contamination from other customers using the wrong scoops. That and the bins are sometimes coated in flour to keep the food inside from sticking. So if possible, buy packaged ingredients (but watch out for that pesky “manufactured in a facility that also produces wheat” note, which is no good).
  • Use gluten free baking soda and baking powder.
Longer Term:

If you have a long term visitor, whether it’s a roommate, boarder, or regular family guest, there are a few things that you may want to do or have on hand as an added bonus. Most Celiacs, once they’ve been around the block a while, will come to your home prepared. They will try to bring everything that they need or isn’t easily accessible in your local stores, but they are sometimes limited by cooler space or carry on luggage. So, although you don’t need to do any of the following, if you do, your friend will appreciate it greatly.

  • Keep miniature versions of common condiments in your fridge only for the use of the Celiac person. Mayonnaise, butter, ketchup, mustard, peanut butter and jam are just a few examples of things that are commonly contaminated from the sandwich knife. Squeeze top versions of these also work, as long as you don’t clean them using your fingers after making a sandwich or burger. Another condiment that can be useful is wheat free tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Keep gluten free burger buns or bread in your freezer. The GF bread won’t go bad in your freezer. If you do keep bread though, please note that most GF bread doesn’t hold together unless it’s toasted. So we may need to toast it and won’t be able to use your regular toaster unless we have toaster bags. We can always use an oven or toaster oven with tinfoil instead.
  • Keep fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and rice crackers (plain) on hand for quick easy snacks and breakfasts.
  • If you have access to a dedicated gluten free bakery or a health food store that brings in products from a gluten free bakery, you can always get GF cookies, donuts or cakes (often in the frozen sections if not in the fresh) which you can offer while the rest of the dinner party has their regular dessert. Fruit sorbets work well as an alternative as well, as many Celiacs are also lactose intolerant.
Remember, the best source of information to keep your friend well fed and comfortable is your friend. Do not hesitate to ask them questions. They will be glad to help, as it's always better to be safe than sorry.

In case I forgot anything, or you would like more information, here are some other helpful links in regards to cooking for a Celiac:

So you wanna cook for the Celiac? by Strawberries are Gluten Free

Gluten Free Hospitality
by Thinking Outside the Breadbox

Preparing a meal for a Celiac by the Celiac Association of Canada

A Celiac is coming Home by Leslie Orser


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coconut Carob Brownies


Sometimes a girl just needs chocolate. We crave it, desire it, sometimes just need it. But what do you do when you are told you are allergic to it? Well you either cheat and suffer the consequences or you find an alternative. I now crave, desire and need peanut butter almost as much as non-allergic people crave chocolate. However, when peanut butter isn't enough, there is a wonderful thing called Carob.

Carob comes from a flowering tree that is part of the pea family. The tree produces pods, and it's the ripened pods that we get carob powder from. In eastern areas it's used as sweetener and more recently it's used as a chocolate substitute. Most carob is considered gluten free, however, double check your source as carob chips are sometimes made with barley.

When I am craving chocolate, I tend to cheat and eat chocolate macadamia nut brownies made by my favorite gluten free bakery on the mainland, Panne Rizo. But the other day, one of our local health food stores, Lifestyles Market, had a flier with a recipe for brownies using coconut flour. So I thought I would give it a shot and add some of those yummy macadamia nuts in it to top it off and replace the chocolate with carob so that I wouldn't have to suffer the consequences and boy are they ever delicious!


Coconut Carob Brownies
-Adapted from Lifestyles Market flyer recipe

1/3 cup of Coconut Oil
1/2 cup of Carob Powder, sifted
6 eggs
1 cup of Sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup of Coconut Flour, sifted
1/2 cup of whole Macadamia Nuts

In a small sauce pan melt together the coconut oil and carob powder over low heat. Once it is well blended, remove from heat and let cool. In a bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (except the nuts). Then add the melted carob/coconut oil mixture into your bowl and whisk until there are no lumps in the batter. Stir or fold in the nuts. Pour the batter into a pre-greased 8x8x2 inch pan and place in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.

I topped my brownies with half a bag of Pamella's Vanilla Frosting to which I added about a 1/4 of a cup of sifted Carob Powder to.

Below is a picture of how the brownies turn out if you use shortening and a convection oven instead of coconut oil and a regular oven. They turn out more like a light chocolate cake instead of a denser brownie. Still pretty tasty!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sizzling Stir-fry


What do you do with a fridge full of vegetables that are about to go bad? Or how about ... what do you do when you need a quick easy meal on the go? What's great as left overs for lunch the next day? That's right, you guessed it, it's stir-fry!

You might be wondering how you make stir-fry if most of the Asian sauces you are used to using contain wheat in them, and that is a good question. The answer to which is simply San-J. This company makes a whole big line of Asian sauces based on wheat free tamari and several of their products are certified Gluten Free by the Gluten Free Certification Association. All of their products that I have tried so far are very good and having them as an option, definitely help out when trying to make a yummy tasting stir-fry.

My boyfriend and I like to make stir-fry's when we are trying to make something healthy and full of vegetables for a change. It's also fairly quick and relatively inexpensive as well (depending on your ingredients). I remember one time we were discussing why on earth he
would make your own food, when he could get a burger for less than 2 dollars at McDonalds. The stir-fry helped me argue for a healthier dinner because for 10 dollars you could get 4 meals out of your stir-fry (dinner for two, plus lunch left overs) which is on par with McDonalds, considering one hamburger does not fill him up. Plus, it's a great way to get in all of those vegetables that we tend to lack in our diets on occasion.


Here is the recipe for the last Stir-fry that I made:

Pork Stir-fry

GF Soy Sauce (tamari or braggs)
GF Teriyaki Sauce
1 medium Purple Onion, sliced
Ginger and Garlic to taste
1 lb of Pork, cubed or in strips
1 Red Pepper
1 Orange Pepper
1 handful of Baby Carrots
1 handful of Crimini Mushrooms
1 head of Broccoli
1 bunch of Green Beans (trimmed)
1 bunch of Bean Sprouts
1 bunch of Baby Bok Choy

An hour before or longer, marinate cubed pork in a 2 to 1 mixture of Teriyaki (2 parts) and Soy Sauce (1 part) with some garlic and ginger to taste.

In a large oiled frying pan or wok, heat sliced onions (med-high heat). Once the onions are softened add in the marinated pork and cook until the onions are golden and the pork is no longer pink in the middle. At this point you can add more sauce, ginger and garlic, depending on how saucy you like your stir-fry. Then add the vegetables which take the longest to cook first, such as the carrots, green beans, and mushrooms. Once the carrots are nearly fork tender, add the remaining vegetables stir frying until cooked and mix well to get the flavour of the sauce.

Now all that is left is to plate it with rice or noodles and if you like you can garnish with cashews or sesame seeds.

This recipe can be adjusted to your tastes and what's on hand. Grab left over vegetables, use chicken or beef instead of pork, fancy it up with shitake mushrooms, etc. Let your imagination guide you!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Zero 8

Photo: André Tremblay, La Presse

Oh my dreams are coming true, only in the wrong province! I've been dreaming of opening up an allergy friendly restaurant, here in Victoria, but I have no business experience, no financing and no restaurant experience, so my dream is a ways away for now.

However, I've heard that there is a new restaurant in Montreal (again wrong province, but it's a start!) called Zero 8. It's called that because it has eliminated 8 of the 9 common allergies out of their restaurant completely. They follow strict checks to ensure none of the allergens ever enter the restaurant, so if you and your family have various allergies, this is the restaurant for you. For once, it is not a complicated task to eat. Also, even though only the wheat is considered an actual allergen, this restaurant includes all gluten as a whole (barley, rye, oats, malt) when eliminating allergens.

Wow, if only I lived near Montreal!? Has anyone actually been there to confirm or deny what a great place this is?

Follow this link to watch a video about the new restaurant: Zero 8 on CTV


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gluten in your bathroom?

The day the doctor tells you that you can no longer consume gluten, the first thing you do (other than cry yourself to sleep) is go through your kitchen cupboards and fridge and throw out everything that is no longer safe to eat. One thing that we don't always do, or are directed not to worry about is going through our bathroom cupboards as well.

Initially I was told that you don't have to worry about hair products or make up, because you are not ingesting them and absorbing gluten through the skin doesn't impact our digestive systems. However, now that I've been gluten free for a few years, I've started to make sure it's not in any of my toiletries. I noticed after switching shampoos that I was get contaminated a lot and I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized that my new shampoo had wheat in it. One thing I do in the shower is wash my hair and then immediately scrub my lips to get rid of flakes, especially in the winter. So here I was, unintentionally contaminating myself on a daily basis. I now have a gluten free shampoo from that is fantastic.

It's an especially good idea to go through your toiletries if you have small children around who are Celiac. Small children will eat anything, and even though the amounts of gluten that may be in your lipstick or body wash may be so small that they won't cause a reaction, it's probably a good idea to make sure that product is gluten free in case they eat the tube of chap stick or something silly like that.

I'm notoriously bad for forgetting about the medicine in my bathroom cupboards as well. After a few months, I came across a posting about gluten free medicine and that little sp
ark went off in my head. The one that says, "Oh yeah, I guess I eat/ingest medicine and it should be safe too." Luckily for me, Advil and most of the other products that I use are already safe, but make sure you find out what starch or filler is being used in your medicines, or they may just cause you more grief than aid.

I don't want to sound like a sales person right now, but I do feel that I should mention a company called Arbonne. Only a few short months ago, I had never heard of the company, and now I am a loyal customer. They are not for the frugal in mind as the initial cost of their products are not cheap, however, the products last much longer than their cheap counter parts, so in the long run they are a better deal.

What got me hooked on Arbonne is the product itself. Sure, the at home parties with wine and goodies
www.arbonne.ca/

and a room full of chatty woman is fun, but it won't make me come back and by more. The product is the only thing that can do that, and it has. I use their Clear Advantage skin care line (which is gluten free) and a few weeks after using it, my Mom made a comment on a recent photograph saying that my skin looked like it was glowing in that picture. I had noticed a difference in myself, but it was nice to know that it was noticeable to others as well.

I also use their Intelligence Shampoo line. It will make your hair so incredibly soft that you can't stop touching it. The Lemon Scrub smells delicious, and is actually really great at removing grit and grime from your boyfriends work dirty hands. In fact, the men in your house might start trying to steal your stuff. One big seller is that all of their products are vegan and not tested on animals. They are, unfortunately, not all gluten free ... but they do have many products that are gluten free. Just ask them. They are very helpful and friendly and will provide you with lists of safe products to use.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lemon Hazelnut Green Beans

Every Thanksgiving dinner needs vegetables. Why not make them super tasty? Here's another recipe from Canadian Living which needs no adaptions:


Lemon Hazelnut Green Beans
-by the Canadian Living Test Kitc
hen

1 bag of fresh Green Beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons of Butter
1/3 cup of Hazelnuts, chopped
rind from one Lemon

Boil or steam green beans until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and drain. Chill beans in cold water and drain again. In a skillet, melt butter and add hazelnuts until lightly toasted (golden). About 5 minutes, or when it starts smelling really good! Throw in your lemon rind, and add in your green beans. Mix and cook for another 5 minutes until heated through. Voila! Now you have some yummy smelling and tasting vegetables to go with your turkey.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Please Pass the Stuffing

Holidays with such a strong focus on food can be a bit daunting for the newly diagnosed Celiac. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas and Easter all have a part of them that is dedicated to food. Food which is often off limits to those who have to eat gluten free. For Halloween it's all that delicious candy, Easter bunnies might have a hard time trying to feed a Celiac who is also partially allergic to chocolate (myself) and then Thanksgiving and Christmas are filled with stuffing and gravy, which are loaded with gluten.

My first Thanksgiving, my Mom made me a rice based stuffing. It was good, but just not the same stove top boxed stuffing I knew and loved. So the following Christmas I endeavored to try making stuffing from scratch and us Energ-e Gluten Free Bread instead. I don't think I've ever eat the bread straight up, as it smells incredibly yeasty ... however, it is great to toast and use as stuffing. My Mom had big doubts about how this stuffing was going to turn out, so she made regular stuffing for the rest of the family and mine was the optional version. Well, ever since that infamous day, our family only eats one kind of stuffing ... the gluten free kind! Everyone liked my stuffing so much that they demand I make it now instead of their old traditional stuffing. Score one for team Celiac!

The year that I made the stuffing, Canadian Living
came out with a themed magazine and I used several recipes from it and they all turned out brilliantly, even if I had to make one or two minor adjustments to them. Here is there stuffing recipe which I adapted.


Spinach, Bacon and Cashew Stuffing in Acorn Squash
-Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine

6-10 Slices of Bacon, chopped
1/3 cup Butter
1 large Yellow Onion
1/4 Fresh Sage, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bag of fresh Spinach, trimmed (or 1 pac
kage of frozen spinach)
1 loaf of Energ-e GF Bread, cubed
1/2 coarsley chopped Unsalted Cashews
1 cup of GF Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Whipping Cream
3 Eggs
4-6 Acorn Squash

Start by preparing the stuffing portion firs
t as it requires time in the refigerator, then we'll move onto the squash. First you will need to cube all of your GF bread and place it on a cookie sheet. Then put it in the oven and toast it, perhaps 15 minutes at 350 degrees F ... you'll have to keep a close eye on it so that it doesn't burn. While your bread is toasting, you can cook the bacon on medium heat. Remove it from the pan and drain it on some paper towel (set aside).

In the same pan melt the butter and fry up the onions, sage, salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp each). Next slowly add the spinach until wilted. Place this mixture in a large bowl along with the bacon, toasted bread and chopped nuts.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together whipping cream, chicken stock and eggs. Pour this over the bread mixture and mix well. Place the stuffing mixture into the fridge and allow it to soak up the liquid for about an hour. If you leave the stuffing in it's bowl, remember to stir it occasionally to allow even coating, or pour it into a large baking dish for even distribution.

While your stuffing is sitting, prepare the Acorn Squash. Wash the outside skins, cut them in half, scoop out the inside to rem
ove the seeds and make the opening a little bit wider, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then place cutside down on a foil lined and greased cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees F and then remove from the oven.

Once the both the stuffing and squash are ready, flip the acorn squash over and fill them with the uncooked stuffing.
Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.




Don't forget that Acorn squash comes in a variety of colours. So if you want to spice things up visually, get a mixture of yellow, green or green and white squash.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake Interlude

Well I promised I would put up a few thanksgiving related recipes and there will be a few more to come, but I thought I would post this chocolate cheesecake recipe as an interlude first.

My boyfri
end's birthday is coming up and I wanted to hold a surprise party for him. With his roommates help, that's exactly what I did. His favorite dessert is chocolate cheesecake, so that is what I made for his birthday cake. I've never made a cheesecake before, not even before I was diagnosed with Celiac, so I was very nervous of how my concoction would turn out. I browsed a bunch of recipes and pulled a little from one and a little from another. Not the best idea for a first time cake, but it worked!

Everyone at the party said that my cheesecake was delicious and no one had any idea it was gluten free until they noticed
I was eating it too. My boyfriend was especially impressed, saying that it tasted exactly like his favorite chocolate cheesecake from the store and really liked the chocolate leaves that I made to decorate it. The cheesecake was a bit much for me as I'm lactose intolerant and technically not supposed to eat chocolate either, but damn did it taste good. Try it yourself!



Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust:
1 pa
ckage of Panne Rizo GF Chocolate Walnut Cookies
3/4 cu
p melted Butter
1 tablespoon Sugar

Filling:
1 cup of Ricotta Cheese

2 cups of Cream Cheese

3 eggs

1/2 cup Sour Cream

1/2 cup Sugar

1/4 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract

2 tablespoon Carob Powder (or cocoa powder)

1 cup melted GF Chocolate Chips

To start place the gluten free cookies in a plastic bag (ziploc) and smash the cookies with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer. Once the cookies are a nice crumbly consistency, place them in a medium sized bowl. Add melted butter and sugar and mix well. Using a spatula place the cookie mixture into the base of a pre-greased cheesecake pan. If you like more crust, double the recipe.

Now in a food processor, mix cheeses and eggs, until well mixed. Then add sour cream, sugar and almond extract and mix well. Pulse in carob pie. Pour this mixture into a large bowl and fold in melted chocolate with a spatula. Pour the filling into the cheesecake pan, on top of the crust. Place the cheesecake into a pre-heated 400 degree F oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for another 60 minutes. It's a good idea to place an empty cookie sheet on a rack below the cheesecake to catch any drippings. Once the the cheesecake is finished baking allow it to cool in the oven for up to 3 hours to prevent cracking. Next chill for 6 hours or overnight before removing sides of pan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Herb Roasted Chicken

Well it's that time of year again, where we are nearing Canadian Thanksgiving. I always found it strange that even though Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in the same way and it means pretty much the same to both, that we celebrate them at different times of the year. Being slightly biased, I believe Canadian Thanksgiving is best!

As such, I thought I would post a few thanksgiving related recipes in the next few weeks. They can easily be adjusted from one holiday to the next (Christmas anyone?) and for every day meals. The first one I would like to share is a simple roast chicken. This recipe can be used for a Cornish hen, a roast chicken, or a turkey ... just adj
ust the amount of oil and herbs you use to accommodate the size of bird.

Herb Roasted Chicken

1 Tablespoon Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Thyme
4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Lemon, quartered
1 Onion, quarterd
1 Cup of Gluten Free Chicken Stock*

*Please note that I received an email stating that Campbell Chicken Stock in the red and white box is no longer considered gluten free, I use Glutino Chicken Soup Base

Rinse chicken in cold water and remove items from the cavity (usually neck, heart and liver). In a small bowl mix together herbs, salt, pepper and oil. Rub this herb mixture all over the outside skin of your chicken and between the skin and breast of the chicken (this requires you to gently separate the skin from the breast, while still keeping it attached, and rubbing the mixture directly on the breast meat. Place the onion and lemon quarters in the chest cavity. Place chicken in a clay pot and pour 1 cup of chicken stock around the chicken and cover. Bake in 350 degree F oven for appropriate amount of time. Once the chicken has reached 185 degrees F, remove from oven (remove cover approximately 10 minutes prior to help brown the skin). Any types of vegetables can be placed in the pot with the chicken as well, such as potatoes or carrots, to help with your side dish.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Importance of Reading Labels

The other day I was shopping when I decided to go down the soup isle. I never go down this isle anymore, as most canned soups have gluten in them in one form or the other. Specialized stores and natural health food stores tend to have a better selection and more options in regards to gluten free soup, but not your everyday regular grocery stores. At least not yet. However, it's always good to check up on your regular everyday grocery stores to see if they are making progress in the gluten free food front. A few stores have been surprising me lately, but I will touch on that in future blogs.

The point of this entry is to remind you of the importance of reading labels ... even those labels that have "Gluten Free" in huge bold letters on the front of the package. You see, as I was walking down the soup isle when I spotted a can of soup with the words "Gluten Free and No MSG Added" on the front of the can. It stopped me in my tracks. Okay, so it was just a relatively boring vegetable garden flavour, but it was gluten free canned soup. That's almost unheard of in my world. So I picked it up and almost put it in my basket, but something told me to keep reading. I think it was because it was in an imported section. By this I mean that grasping an ingredients list, the specific labelling requirements and the definitions of certain phrases can be hard enough in Canada, especially with the dual languages... never mind adding a third language in the mix. When you add in another language there is a greater chance of misinterpretation, misunderstanding or miscommunication. For instance, my gluten free can of soup, had the words "Contains wheat" in small print on the back of the label with the list of ingredients.

How can a product be gluten free and contain wheat? It's simply not possible, but I run into this type labelling issue more and more. The more I read my labels, the more I find contradicting statements with them ... usually with the newer products. This is where you, me and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency comes in.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada share joint responsibilities in food labelling in Canada. According to the CFIA's website:

"The
CFIA enforces Canada's labelling laws and works with associations, distributors, food manufacturers and importers to ensure complete and appropriate labelling of all foods. The CFIA recommends that food companies establish effective allergen controls to minimize the potential for allergic reactions. When the CFIA becomes aware of a potential serious hazard associated with a food, such as undeclared allergens, the CFIA investigates and takes all appropriate action to protect consumers, which may include a recall of the food product.
"

Do you notice that it says "when the CFIA becomes aware?" Well they do check labels and randomly sample food to ensure they are following the rules and regulations, but they are only so many people and there is a whole heck of a lot of food out there. There is no way they could look at every label and test every food product to ensure that it is not misrepresenting anything. So this means, if we become aware of something, we need to make the CFIA aware of it. The more consumer complaints they receive on a particular product the more likely they will take the complaint seriously and investigate the matter further. Depending on the extent and situation, your consumer complaint my end up helping to recall a food product or at least get the label changed so that others do not make the same mistake you did.

Now I wouldn't phone them up every time you get a bloated stomach, but if you know for sure that you didn't eat anything else that could possibly contain gluten prior to a 'gluten free' product and then had a reaction, then I would consider it. I get cross contaminated frequently and my reactions can last for days, so it's hard for me to tell sometimes if I'm reacting to the food I just ate, or if I'm still reacting to the food I ate a few days ago. So if I think a 'gluten free' product isn't in fact gluten free, I will try it one more time ... but only after I haven't been reacting to anything else and only after ensuring I don't eat anything that could contain gluten before hand. If you make a consumer complaint they will inquire as to what else you ate, so it's good to make sure your complaint is valid first. However, sometimes you don't need to eat it ... like that can of soup. If it says gluten free in one spot and contains wheat in another, the labelling needs to be fixed.

When it comes to labelling, there is hope in our future. The CFIA and Health Canada are currently going through the process of trying to make allergen labelling more clear, and this will include gluten. So, possibly, one day soon you will be able to know for certain that the product in your hand does or does not contain gluten, because it will have to state it. No more exemptions and hiding in flavours or spices or other such things. For more details on that promising future, visit the CFIA website. In the meantime ... keep reading those labels!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cannelloni

Cannelloni is one of those foods I thought that I would never get to eat again. I've been searching and searching for a rice pasta cannelloni shells and have yet to find one. All of the gluten free pasta, even the ready made frozen dinners, didn't have cannelloni as an option. Until recently that is ... I discovered Planet Organic carried a frozen dinner option and tried it, and it was good. Unfortunately I can't remember what it was called. I was surprised to see how they did the shell though, as it was just a flat piece of pasta rolled up. That gave me an idea! I could just make cannelloni with gluten free lasagna noodles ... and so that is what I did.



Cannelloni

Wrap:
1 box/package of Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles

Filling:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 package of Frozen Spinach
2 cups of Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese
1 medium Yellow Onion

1 large Egg
1/2 tsp of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Topping:

1 16oz can of Tomato Sauce
4 small to medium tomatoes, diced (I used orange and yellow vine tomatoes)
Basil (to taste)
1 package of Goat Mozzarella, g
rated

To start, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Next boil water and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. While
pasta is boiling create filling by frying onions and spinach in a pan with your olive oil. Cook until onions are golden brown. Place this in a large bowl along with the remaining filling ingredients and mix well. In a smaller bowl you can mix your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and basil.


Next it's time to assemble. Pour part of your tomato topping into a 3 quart baking dish. Then lay out your lasagna noodles and spoon filling (about 2 tablespoons at a time, but you can change to whatever works for you) onto on end of the lasagna noodle and roll up. Place the rolled up noodle into your baking pan. Continue until all of your noodles and filling is used up. Do due the size of the noodle your cannelloni's will be about half the length of a regular one, but you can serve four instead of the usual two. Cover these with the rest of your tomato topping, coat in mozzarella and bake for 20 minutes. Voila! Your masterpiece is complete.


After trying this for the first time I was amazed at how fresh it tasted. I must admit I've only ever tried the frozen entree version of cannelloni and will now find it hard to go back. Yum!