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!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Artichokes

Artichokes, they aren't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a snack but they can be tasty! My favorite used to be artichoke and spinach dip with lime tortillas. I know that there are some regular chips out there that Celiacs can still eat, but I'm one of those super sensitive people that will get symptoms from food that is processed in the same facility if they don't have good management practices in place to prevent cross contamination. So I've been avoiding regular chips for a while.

But that's a bit of side track. My point is to talk about the artichokes. One day I was downtown Victoria with some friends at Peacocks Billiards and James Joyce Bistro to play some pool. There was a big wait so we thought we'd have some drinks and maybe a snack first to bide the time. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they had a special gluten free menu available that highlights what is safe for a Celiac to eat. On that menu was fried artichokes with aioli dip. I knew I liked artichokes in spinach dip, but I had never tried them on there own before. So I decided to live on the edge and try them. They were surprisingly good and addictive. I had to tell my friends to stay away from my food they were so yummy.

So I tried to make a similar version at home and here is what I came up with:


Fried Artichokes with Curry Mayo


Vegetable Oil
1 Jar or Can of Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1/3 Cup of White Rice Flour
Salt
Pepper

Mayonnaise
Curry Powder

This recipe is pretty easy and most of it is done to taste, which is why I don't really have any measurements. Basically fill a frying pan with oil (olive or vegetable, but vegetable is cheaper) so that it's about 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat the oil. While heating the oil place rice flour in a bowl or a plastic bag and add salt and pepper to taste. Place artichoke hearts in the flour and coat completely. Then place them in the heated oil and fry until all sides are golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel to drain excess oil.

To make the dip all you need is mayonnaise and mild curry powder. I guess how much dip I would like to use, perhaps one or two heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise and then add curry to taste (for me approximately 1 teaspoon). Mix well.

Then all that's left is to plate the artichokes and dip and enjoy!




Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crispy Kale

Kale ... what the heck is it and what is it good for? I still don't pretend to know. But this is what I've found out. Kale is a leafy green that shares the same family as cabbage and Brussels sprouts, which means it's loaded with nutrients (Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Calcium, etc). Some sources claim that it is a super food and contains nutrients that can aid in fighting cancer. The best part is, it's peak growth period in winter when sources of high quality vegetables are lower.

A while back a coworker brought bags and bags of kale to work. She couldn't give the stuff away because no one new what to do with it. Since then I've seen a few vegetarians adding it to stir fry's and saute's. Y
et I still hadn't had the guts to try it out. That is until another coworker told me about kale chips.

They seemed pretty simple to make and it didn't require ruining an entire meal, so I thought I would give it a try. When my boyfriend was over later that evening, I asked him if he would like to try them. "Isn't that lettuce?" he asked. "Pretty much" was my reply and fr
om there he went on a tirade about how stupid it was to make lettuce chips. He was getting quite worked up about it, but I told him he was not allowed to rant about it until he tried them. So he did. I watched him glare at the foul thing before popping it into his mouth and then the moan came ... the moan of defeat. His expression changed almost instantly from that of loathing health nut crazy food to inquisitiveness and positivity. In other words he liked them. He said they actually tasted pretty good and were quite light so you didn't feel like you were stuffing yourself. My thoughts exactly. They don't quite taste like chips, although at moments they do. But the flavour they do have is quite addictive. It's like those old Lays potato chip commercials ... I dare you to just have one.


Kale Chips

1 bunch of Kale, washed and stems removed
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese(optional)

Tear kale leaves into bite size pieces and toss in olive oil. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle Parmesan on top. Place in 250 degree F oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Canadian Living has an article with some interesting uses for kale. How do you cook with kale?