Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Cake with Candy Cane Icing

This week I have been a buzz with holiday party planning. Last year would have been my first holiday party with my new co-workers in Parksville, but C’s party was the same day and we went to his instead. This year there was talk of where to host the holiday party and I offered our place. You see, C and I have been dating for four years now and have so far, spent every Christmas apart. I visit my family in Victoria and he visits his family in Vancouver. So what’s the point of decorating when you aren’t going to be around to enjoy it, ever?

Well, this year, we’ve done two things to change that. One, we’ve decided to start alternating families and holidays so that we can spend them together … yay! Two, I decided hosting a holiday party would be the best reason for me to get my decorations out that have been in boxes for the last 3 years.


I will be honest, I was a bit nervous, as if my name is associated with the party no one tends to show up. It’s a curse. It can be my idea, and I can help plan it, but if it’s at my house it tends to bomb. So having the holiday party at my place could go horribly wrong, but I think it went all right. Everyone at work complimented me on the party today, without any provocation so that is usually a good sign.

I was a bundle of nerves up until people started showing up, but it was fun. I conveniently purchased a groupon for an 8-hour fall detox session with Four Season’s cleaning services in Nanaimo and used it the day before the party. They did an excellent job of cleaning the place, and I’m very happy with them. I wish I could afford them on a regular basis, but the groupon was probably a one-time deal for now. Having the place professionally cleaned the day before helped ease up a bunch of pressure.


So that morning/afternoon I spent most of my time in the kitchen and setting up. I made a yummy cheese ball recipe, but it was from the recipe that came with my dehydrated smoked chanterelles from Salt Spring Island, so I can’t really repost it here. I did try to make it look like a pinecone though. Do you think it worked? Then I decided to make a peppermint chocolate cake. I got the idea from yet another raw uncooking class I took at the Rawthentic Eatery with their delicious dessert class last week.  Unfortunately I spaced on one of the ingredients, so stead of making the peppermint patties I thought I would turn my Betty Crocker gluten free white cake box into something a little more glamorous. Of course, I could have started making things easier on myself by buying the chocolate cake mix to start with, but I was too lazy to go out to the store. So I manipulated the white cake I had on hand.  It turned out quite tasty with a bonus of making your breath fresh after eating it as well!

One other thing I did when setting up for the party was to set up a backdrop in the guest room for Christmas photos. Not that many people took me up on it, but those that did seemed to have fun with it and they got a nice ‘couple’ shot out of it. Next time I do need to work on my lighting though! Here is one of me with the red backdrop. I made black and white versions that looked much better :)



Chocolate Peppermint Cake with Candy Cane Icing

Cake

1 Box of Betty Crocker's Gluten Free White Cake Mix
1 Cup gf Cocoa Powder, sifted
4 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Teaspoons Peppermint Extract
2/3 Cup of Water
1/2 Cup Butter, softened

Icing

1/2 Butter, softened
4 Cups Icing Sugar
4 Teaspoons of Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
handful of Peppermint Candy Canes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make cake mix according to directions, only adding the extra egg (box calls for 3), peppermint extract and sifted cocoa powder in addition to the box directions. Pour into greased baking dish and follow baking times on box. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then flip over and remove from pan and continue to cool.

While cake is cooling, through the candy canes into a food processor and process until they are fine chunks. That my be an oxymoron but that's what you're looking for! Then in a large mixing bowl add 1 cup of icing sugar at a time to the softened butter until all of the icing sugar is well mixed. Add remaining water and extracts and mix well. Then add crushed candy canes and stir well. Now you may ice your cake and enjoy this mouth watering and refreshingly yummy dessert.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rawthentic Eatery Uncooking Classes


There is only one restaurant in the area that hasn’t gotten me sick on a regular basis, even though they all try to accommodate me, and that is Rawthentic Eatery. The raw food diet is naturally gluten free being based solely on nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I really like some of the raw foods that lend to extending my gluten free repertoire.  

So I’ve been super excited to be going to the Rawthentic Eatery uncooking classes. They have been offering 2 hour cooking classes, taught by Deborah, twice a month and range from $25-$35 plus taxes. I love these classes because Deborah demonstrates exactly how to make each recipe, showing you the consistency of flax meal flour and other ingredients as she goes along and answers lots of questions. Then at the end of the demonstration we all get to eat the food. She purposely picks items that will make a meal.


One class I went to was sprouted buckwheat bread, cashew mayo, Thai kelp noodle salad and banana ice cream. They made the bread into a sandwich, so at the end of the class we had sandwiches, salad and ice cream. The ice cream was a huge hit. Last week I attended a class and learned how to make wraps, hummus (without chickpeas), and raspberry cheesecake. So again it was made into a full meal at the end of the class. I keep making the mistake of eating before coming to class and then get so full at the end of it.

 

There next class is December 7th, 2011 and it’s all raw Christmas desserts. I can’t wait! They in know way asked me to promote their restaurant or classes, but I have just been enjoying them so much that I wanted to share with those of you that might be local and who might want to try it out. If you would like more information their website is: http://www.rawthenticeatery.com/ Unfortunately they are not very good at keeping it up to date. The courses listed are from last year. However, they do have a mailing list that you can sign up for and it is always up to date

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sausage, Sage, Squash and Quinoa Skillet


The other day I was pondering what to do with my left over pumpkin. You see, I had bought two pumpkins for Halloween and carved one myself and saved the other for C to carve. Well C never got around to carving it. So I thought I would use it for food instead of some sort of decorative ornament. My only problem is that I’ve never done this before. I have always had to throw out my pumpkins after carving them because they rot so quickly and I’ve never bought a pumpkin specifically to bake with. I know you are supposed to pick the small sugar pumpkins to bake pumpkin pies and that sort of thing, but here I had a huge pumpkin that I wasn’t even sure how to tackle cutting.

So I’m thinking what I should do with this thing, when I decide to make a savory dish out of it. Everything pops into my head and I feel I have a winner on my hands. So I go and grab the pumpkin off the deck and the top is rotten already. Oh boy. I do not like wasting food, but I also do not like using vegetables that are starting to rot. So I lay my idea to rest for the night and made something completely different (quinoa sushi) for dinner that night.

The next day I had a revelation. I had on my shelf a butternut squash. I could use it to make my meal! I really wanted to make this dinner because it was the first dinner I have thought of completely on my own with no recipe at all! Most of my food (that isn’t basic meat and potatoes) comes from at least one recipe if not a combination of several. So for dinner I made this sausage, sage, squash and quinoa skillet. I don’t really know what else to call it, but it is like Thanksgiving on a plate.  Canadian Thanksgiving is long over, but if you find yourself craving the savory flavour of Thanksgiving, this might just be the next best thing.


Sausage, Sage, Squash and Quinoa Skillet

1 Butternut Squash (or small pumpkin)
1 medium White or Yellow Onion, thickly chopped
1 tablespoon Butter
2 tablespoon fresh Sage, finely chopped
½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
½ cup Walnut pieces
1 package Ground Pork Sausage (gf)
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Water
1 tablespoon Creamed Coconut
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Take your butternut squash and cut it in half. Scoop out the guts in the center. Place face down (skin up) on a foil lined cookie sheet and place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes to an hour or however long it takes it to get soft throughout.

In a small pot, place one cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water and throw a tablespoon of creamed coconut* in the pot. Place on high until it starts to boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes with lid on.

Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan, melt the butter. Add onions, sage, pepper and nutmeg and cook until golden and soft.  Push the onions to the side and add in your pork sausage and cook until no longer pink.

Once your pork is done add in the walnuts to lightly toast them and then add quinoa to your frying pan with the sausage and onions and mix well. Next, cube your cooked butternut squash and stir them into the mix.  Plate and serve warm.

* I discovered recently that if you throw in a little bit of creamed coconut into the quinoa, it cuts the bitter nutty flavour of the quinoa and makes it more palatable, without an overpowering coconut flavour. It’s my new favorite thing to do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Contaminated Lentils

Just a quick video from the folks at Whole Life Nutrition about lentils often being contaminated with gluten containing grains. I have had this issue myself, making a rice/lentil wrap and getting quite ill. I knew the rice was fine as I had used it before and the bag of lentils was brand new, so it had to be the lentils. Just something to consider.


Gluten Cross-Contamination in Lentils from Whole Life Nutrition on Vimeo.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Grain Free Pumpkin Waffles



Fall is officially here. Well it’s been here for a while now, but I’ve been run off my feet doing so many things I haven’t had a whole lot of time to enjoy it. I love the colours that fall brings in the ever changing trees. They are so bright and beautiful. I only wish I was back east where their forests are more deciduous so I could take better pictures. Here those darn evergreen/coniferous trees keep trying to sneak in the way.


Fall also brings pumpkins, ginger and cinnamon back into the mix, so warm and inviting. So the thought of pumpkin waffles naturally crossed my mind. The only thing is that I have a wonderful machine that I haven’t been able to figure out to date. However, this past weekend, I did it! I successfully made waffles that weren’t burnt to a crisp and hard as a rock in my Hulk Hogan Grill. I love this grill … I used to have a George Forman Grill (equally as nice) but after years of service it finally kicked the bucket. When I went to replace it, I decided to replace it with an all in one grill and those are hard to find. But I found the Hulk Hogan grill that has grill plates, griddle plate and waffle plates. Woo hoo …

Then of course these days I’m trying to lean towards grain free, so what sort of waffle should I make? Well I found this recipe (below) and tweaked it a bit and it turned out great. C said it tasted like banana bread, which I love, so I bet mashed bananas could make a great replacement for the pumpkin if desired. Try it out and let me know how it goes!


Grain Free Pumpkin Waffles
- based on this recipe http://grainfreerecipes.com/my-secret-recipe-for-waffles/

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
1 cup flax seed meal
½ cup Palm Sugar
4 eggs
½ cup butter
½ cup canned Pumpkin
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt


Directions:

Preheat waffle iron to 265 degrees F.  In a large bowl, melt butter. Then add eggs, pumpkin, and water and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Cook on waffle iron for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Top with butter, maple syrup and pecans.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grain Free Apple Pear Tart with Riesling and Cardamom


As I walked out to my car in the pouring rain, I noticed there were apples all over the ground. So I looked up … and there above me was a branch laden with apples. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, I mean our landlord gave us the tour of the yard when we first moved in last summer and specifically pointed out the multiple apple and pear trees. But last year our growing season wasn’t great and I don’t remember any fruit. This year the growing season seemed far worse, but for some reason the fruit trees seem to think differently. They are bearing their fruit everywhere!

Sadly, as a renter I do not own a ladder, so I can only grab what is within my reach. So it’s a good thing I’m both tall and not afraid to dangle off the wooden fence to get to them. Having collected a very modest amount of apples and pears (most are still on the trees) I decided I didn’t really have enough to make pear butter or applesauce, as was my original intention. So instead I did what I do best and combined a few recipes to make a grain free apple pear tart. The crust is from Quinoa 365 and the filling is based off of this recipe I found on the UK Food Network by Ellie Krieger


Grain Free Apple Pear Tart with Riesling and Cardamom

Crust:
1 ¼ cup Quinoa Flour
3 tablespoons Sugar
½ cup Butter, softened
1-tablespoon water

Filling:
¼ cup Riesling Wine
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Apple, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Pears, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1-teaspoon ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground Cardamom
1 tablespoon Arrowroot Powder

Glaze:
1 tablespoon Honey
2 teaspoons water
¼ ground Cardamom

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare tart pan by spraying with pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugar and quinoa flour. Then, using a pastry cutter cut in softened butter until a crumbly down forms. Next add water and mix by hand to form a rough ball. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, prepare your fruit (peel and slice apple and pears) and add them to a large bowl filled with Riesling wine and lemon juice. Toss to coat so that the fruit doesn’t turn brown. Next add in brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and arrowroot powder and hand toss until coated evenly. Set aside to marinate.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of wax paper sprinkled with some quinoa flour. Remove the top layer or wax paper and use the remaining piece to help you place it in the prepared tart pan. Press into edges and repair any cracks with extra pastry. Poke a few small holes in the pastry with a fork or knife and then fill with your fruit filling.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F for another 40 minutes. Once the tart is finished baking remove it from the oven and set it to cool. At this time add honey, boiling water and cardamom to a small bowl and mix well. Using a pastry brush, immediately coat the apples and pears with the honey glaze. Serve warm with a little whipped cream if you like.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes

When someone says, “it’s a small world after all” they are usually referring to how random person you just met knows someone you know. It’s a type of craziness that happens all the time. Today I feel like it’s a small world after all in regards to cookbooks.

The other day, a classmate (Nikki) from high school posted a photo of some Pumpkin Pancakes that she made with quinoa. I made a mental note to try them as the photo she took of them looked so tasty. Finally the worlds came together … my Vitamix replacement part came in the mail (most amazing warranty service ever) and my nuts online order came and I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. So I made the yummy looking pancakes this morning and they taste just as good as they look!

Wanting to share them with you I double checked where the original recipe came from and it was adapted from a book called Quinoa 365 … the very same cookbook that’s been sitting on my kitchen counter for weeks that I keep meaning to try something from. It’s a small world for cookbooks. Nikki adapted a healthier version which can be found here at Picky Nikki’s website. She’s got some yummy sounding recipes that aren’t all gluten free, but are healthy and worth a visit to her site.

I, of course, adapted her adapted recipe, which actually almost brought it back to the original … now that I have the book in front of me, but not quite.  It’s all about what I had on hand at the time. For some grain free (from most of my reading I’ve read that Quinoa is not considered a grain) Pumpkin Pancakes that taste like heaven, have a go at these!


Quinoa Pumpkin Pancakes
~makes roughly 17 pancakes~

1 ½ cups Quinoa Flour
¼ cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda (gf)
1-teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1-teaspoon ground Allspice
½ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground Sea Salt
¾ cup French Vanilla Yoghurt (or plain)
1 cup Lactose Free Milk with 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice in it (or buttermilk)
1 can (398ml) Pumpkin Puree
2 Egg Whites

Pure Maple Syrup
Pecans

In large bowl whisk together quinoa flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and spices. Next add egg whites, yoghurt, milk and pumpkin. Whisk until well combined. Using a ¼-measuring cup, scoop out pancake mix onto a hot (350 degree F) non-stick griddle. Once the pancake appears to be partially cooked through and is bubbling on top flip it over until cooked all the way through.  Serve with maple syrup and pecans.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A&W Prime Rib Burger


I’ve been travelling a lot lately. Some has been for work and some has been for fun. I was in Northern BC (Prince Rupert, Terrace and Hazelton) for work a few weeks ago. Then Stratchona Park to camp on the September weekend, then Nanaimo for work, then Whistler for the Grand Fondo cycling race (my boyfriend was in it, so I volunteered) and now I’m in Port Hardy for work. Lots of travelling means a lot of eating out, which I do not normally like, however, I’m getting better at ensuring my meals are safe.  In Port Hardy I’ve got a hotel with a kitchenette so that I can make my own meals and I brought some food from Rawthentic Eatery to help out.  In Whistler I researched restaurants through The Celiac Scene dot com for dinner and pre-ordered my lunch and breakfasts from Panne Rizo a completely dedicated gluten free bakery. I spent my first weekend away (other than camping) without getting sick! It was fantastic.

In Whistler I ate at three restaurants. The first was Elements Urban Tapas Parlour. They had a gluten free menu to help with selections, but it’s not 100% accurate. There were items listed with “hoison” sauce, traditionally made with soy sauce, traditionally made with wheat, listed on the menu. I asked the server to double-check the sauce and she confirmed that it wasn’t safe. They also listed a roasted chicken with panko olives. Panko is a fancy word for breaded … at least in my experience; I haven’t actually looked it up. After double-checking it was in fact breaded and deep fried olives, however, they were easily left off the plate. So there was a lot of sleuthing on my part, but after that I had a great meal. I highly recommend the bocchini caprese with roasted chicken (minus the olives).

I also ate at the Fairmont Hotels Wildflower Restaurant. They have a menu for several specialty diets including macrobiotic, vegan, raw, gluten free and more. There are only two appetizers, entrees, and desserts listed under the gluten free but I felt they were a good selection and I ended up having the beet carpacio and snapper for dinner. Sadly, everyone else was too full for dessert so I opted not to have any, but the options sounded yummy! They even served hot out of the oven gluten free buns!

The last place I ate at was Crepe Montagne. Now they don’t serve gluten free crepes, but I had the most delicious tomato cheese omelet with pan fried hash browns and a strawberry (dairy free) smoothie. All very tasty!

With all this eating out I’ve been watching my boyfriend eat a lot of A&W. It’s his fallback store when we’re on the road. It used to be my favourite fast food chain when I ate gluten. I loved their onion rings and either the teen or mozza burgers. Now that I can’t have any of their food, they keep coming out with new burgers.  One of which is the Prime Rib Burger. The big thing being that it’s mainly a plain burger with horseradish sauce and caramelized onions. I’ve been drooling over this one for a while now, so I decided to make my own version. My boyfriend says that it’s almost bang on. So now I don’t have to feel left out :)


A&W Prime Rib Burger

500 grams Ground Beef
1 Egg
½ cup Cattle Boyz BBQ Sauce
Mozzarella slices
1 heaping teaspoon Horseradish
2 heaping tablespoon Miraclewhip (Mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon Butter
1 Onion, diced

To make homemade burger patties place ground beef in a small bowl. Add one egg and bbq sauce and mix together with your hands.  Form into patties of desired size. I made 4 thick patties. Place patties on grill and cook until 170 degrees F in the center. Flip half way through. Top with mozzarella and melt cheese.

In a large frying pan, melt butter and then throw in diced onions. Cook on high until onions are golden and starting to brown.

In a small saucer mix horseradish and miraclehwip until well combined.

Assemble burger as desired. If you don’t eat grains, just wrap in lettuce and throw in a slice of tomato with your onions and horseradish sauce or place on baked portabella mushroom. If you do eat grains you can place burger on a tostada or gluten free bun.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coconut Lime Pie



Oh this summer has flown by; partly because the summer didn’t really pack a punch in the weather department until recently and partly because it’s been full of weekends away from home.  There were many weddings, birthdays, baby showers, etc. to go to this summer. I don’t regret any of it, but I definitely feel like I haven’t had my usual camp on yet this season. I’m hoping to fix that this weekend though.

One of the many events that took some time away from camping was a surprise 60th/retirement party I planned for my Mom that I held a few weekends ago. I actually started planning it almost a year ago and was going to do it on my Mom’s birthday but she was diagnosed with colon cancer and was undergoing surgery 2 months prior. Not knowing if she would need chemotherapy or radiation treatments (both of which I know are incredibly draining) I didn’t want to plan her party in the middle of her potential treatment … so I put it off until the summer. Then I knew she would be fully able to enjoy the surprise and be very surprised because it wasn’t near her retirement or birthday!  Luckily surgery was all my Mom required for treatment and she didn’t have to go through the torment of chemo or radiation. Surgery is difficult in itself, never mind additional treatment. I feel for anyone who is going though this or has a friend or family member going through cancer. It’s not easy. Luckily my Mom’s was caught quickly and she was able to just go through the minimum of treatment. I am very happy that she is recovered and so far still in the clear. She is the strongest woman I know.

For that reason and the fact that she always made sure that we had the best birthdays, including my Dad’s special 50th birthday party, I wanted  to make sure that she got at least one party in her honour. Do to the time of year it was held, not as many people as I had hoped could make it, but there was still a decent turn out and no one spoiled the surprise … although I must say, I almost spilled the beans the day before and so did my boyfriend. Worst liers ever! I’m very grateful to all those who were able to attend and make her day special.

At my Mom’s party, which was hosted at a provincial group campsite because they come with ready-made shelter and tables and chairs, I decorated it in blues and greens. I won’t lie, there was a sale on at shoppers :) So to match the table clothes and cutlery I brought vases from home and filled them with lemons and limes. There were four vases filled mostly with limes, so at the end of the party I had to figure out what to do with them. I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I ended up making my very first lime pie … and of course gave it a gluten free Tiffany twist.

My recipe is based of off several, as usual.  Elana’s Pantry is the source of the crust base and the Joy of Baking the filling and finally Living Without’s Whipped Coconut topping for, well, the topping. I thought that the coconut might balance out the tartness of the limes and it was a big hit at the office. For some reason I can never get the coconut to actually whip up like the pictures (so what you see in the photo is cool whip on my second pie) and always ends up just as coconut sauce. Tasty but not exactly picture perfect. Anyone have any tips for that?


Coconut Lime Pie

Crust
1 cup Almond Flour
½ cup Chestnut Flour
½ cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
4 cup Grapeseed Oil
2 tablespoons Agave
pinch of salt

Filling
3 Egg Yolks (room temp)
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
½ cup Lime Juice (3-4 regular limes)
Rind of one Lime

Topping

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Start by mixing your almond, chestnut, coconut, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the agave and oil. Stir into the dry mixture and place in a pie or tart pan. Use a spatula to form crust. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely.

While the crust is cooling, juice your limes into a measuring cup. In a large mixer beat the egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Next add lime juice and rind and mix well. Then add the can of condensed milk and mix on high until mixture is light and fluffy. Pour filling into piecrust and bake for another 15 minutes until the filling is set (doesn’t jiggle anymore).  Remove from oven and cool again. Then top with desired topping. Yum.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tamari Almonds



Soaking nuts is a new thing too me, but it seems to make sense. Nuts contain many enzyme inhibitors that can strain your digestive system. These enzymes are designed to protect the nut while it is forming until it has enough sun and water to sprout. These enzymes are difficult for our bodies to process so in order to neutralize the enzymes and make the nutrients more bio-available we soak the nuts in salt water and then dehydrate them at low temperatures.  All nuts require different soaking times do to their natural makeup. Some nuts may require longer soaking times then others and the other way around. You don’t want your nuts going mushy on you. To look into soaking times, check out this website: http://www.raw-food-living.com/soaking-nuts.html

I’ve been snacking on Tamari Almonds made by Prana lately and they are very tasty. I decided to try making them myself . They turned out quite well and are very easy to make. They are a handy protein filled snack to have on hand, if you aren’t allergic to nuts that is.


Tamari Almonds

2 cups Whole Raw Almonds
4 cups Water (filtered)
1 tablespoon Salt
¼ - ½ cup Wheat Free Tamari

Mix nuts with salt and water (preferably filtered) in a bowl and leave at room temperature for 8 hours (overnight is easiest). Drain, rinse several times and then place in ¼ - ½ cup of wheat free tamari (enough to get an even coating) and soak for another 8 hours (while you at work for instance). Afterwards, spread almonds on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 105 degrees F for 12-24 hours, until you’ve reached your desired crunchy level. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Raw Banana Cream Tart



Summer time is a time full of fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance. It’s also a time cooking in your already sweltering kitchen isn’t a fun idea. It’s during these hot muggy days that I find my interest in the raw food movement picks up. It quickly dissipates again when the cold weather returns, but I think the raw food movement is a good one. I may never completely switch, but it certainly is a good and healthy thing to incorporate into your diet. It’s also, naturally, almost entirely gluten free. So if you are leading a gluten free life, researching raw food will expand your dietary options. There are lots of ‘breads’ and ‘wraps’ that you can make strictly out of vegetables and seeds and nuts that are softer and more flexible and more flavourful than our traditional gluten free options. They also seem to last longer than most other options. I need to work on obtaining a square dehydrator to pull that off first, but in the meantime there are many desserts that are naturally gluten free too!

Raw desserts are much healthier treats than the traditional kind because any sugar in the dessert is natural and unrefined. The rest is just fruit and nuts. Nuts have a bad rap for being high in fats, but if you are eating healthy fats you will notice that you loose weight not gain weight. It’s when you eat healthy fats and unhealthy fats that you aren’t going to receive any benefits.  So for a tasty banana treat full of nutrients, try these banana tarts.


Raw Banana Cream Tart

Crust
1 cup Brazil Nuts
1 cup Hazelnuts
½ cup Carob Powder
5 Dates
½ cup Honey
Water

Filling
1 Cup Cashews
2 1/2 Banana’s
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Psyllium Husk powder

Topping
1/2 Banana
Carob Powder

In a food processor place brazil nuts and hazelnuts and pulse until still slightly chunky. Add carob powder, dates and honey and pulse until well combined. If the crust isn’t sticking slowly add water and pulse until mixture forms a ball. Press crust mixture into tart shells approximately ¼ thick. Set aside.

In a blender add cashews, bananas, vanilla and psyllium husk powder and blend until smooth. Spoon filling into tart shells.

To decorate the tart shells, slice remaining banana and place on tarts, then sprinkle with carob powder. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight and serve.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No I'm not pregnant ... it's gluten.

My friend Alisa asked me today how my Celiac was coming along. You know, did I have it under control? For me that is a loaded question. I have it under control 95% of the time when I eat only what I buy from the grocery store and make from scratch at home. However, in reality, how many of you make your meals from scratch every day, every month, every year? There are times for me when I have to eat at a restaurant or simply want to try something new. When I try something new I read the ingredients fully and know that according to the ingredient list I’m fine … but many times it’s not as accurate as I would like it to be. Pesto sauce, salsa, lentils, buckwheat, cinnamon, chili powder, and more have all gotten me sick … even though by themselves they should be okay. It’s that darn cross contamination that comes with the globalization of our food systems. Sure lentils are gluten free … but when they are shipped from one country to another in giant crates and blown through a grain elevator that’s had wheat, barley or rye in it … or gets re-packaged in a large factory that has wheat flour floating in the air, then I get sick.

Same goes for having to eat out. Eating out at a restaurant used to be a great pleasure for me, but now it is a nightmare. The only restaurants where I haven’t gotten sick every time I go are the dedicated ones and there aren’t that many around. Oddly enough I have pretty good success at Boston Pizza if I ask them not to cut the pizza and keep it super plain.  The dough is shipped in from elsewhere and is kept in the cooler where they prepare the whole thing. So most times it works out for me, but of course, not all the time.  Many places I’ve gone to that advertise gluten free bread or pasta options or special menus still get me sick. I’m just too sensitive. When I travel for work to small towns it gets worse. Sometimes the hotels don’t have refrigerators or kitchenettes for me so I eat out even more.*

This weekend is the first weekend in literally 2 months that I’ve been home. I’ve been travelling to Victoria, Vancouver, and other such places every weekend. When I go to Victoria I hit up Origin bakery for gluten free sandwiches for lunch and scones or muffins for breakfast and then only have to worry about dinner, but even that doesn’t work all the time. Even though I’m trying to lean towards grain free, when I travel it’s too much to figure out for me so I just stick with gluten free. But some days or weeks even that seems too much.

Today is the first day in several weeks I haven’t been bloated. I’ve been strict. No eating out, no food made by anyone else, no trying some new product that isn’t tried and true, and only eating simple foods … like a whole lot of salads.  The combination of travelling on weekends and getting sick from foods that I thought were safe over and over again these past weeks has been frustrating. It’s not for the lack of trying, but for me, my symptoms last 2-4 days after bad contamination. By the time I might be starting to feel better, something else gets me. I sometimes long for being one of those people who say they aren’t that sensitive. Yet on the other I know what is getting me sick and can avoid it, while others may be consuming it unaware.

A long time ago I read another blogger who posted pictures of her before and after a gluten attack. It helped me in so many ways … knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this issue and knowing that a gluten free blogger that is well in the know can still get glutened. For a long time I’ve been meaning to do the same thing. But it’s hard; you know … willingly having your picture taken when you feel like an elephant.  So it’s been a while in the making but below is my photo. The one that shows how big my stomach really gets. The photo on the left is how far I can push my stomach out on a good clean healthy day. The photo on the right is what gluten does to me and why I where so many baggy shirts when I go to eat out at a restaurant! The bloating is of course only one of many symptoms, but it’s the one I try to hide the most. Not many girls want to look like they are 4-5 months pregnant every time they eat.

I’ve been told that seeing the difference helps those who do not suffer, understand why it is so vitally important not to eat gluten. So to help your friends/family understand and to help you not feel so alone I’ve posted this image for you.

Left: Normal distance I can push my stomach out on a good day.  Right: What gluten does to my stomach ... ouch!

P.S. My boyfriend forced me to smile in the second (right) picture. I certainly didn’t feel like smiling at the time!

* A co-worker taught me a new trick though. If you have to stay at a hotel with no fridge and can’t take a cooler on a plane with you, then bring several Ziploc bags and fill them with ice from the hotel ice machine. Works like a charm! Just make sure to refresh the ice on a regular basis.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zucchini 'Linguini '


Pasta, oh how I love thee. I miss you just a tiny bit, but not as much as I thought I might. I’ve found a new love, a healthier love and one that doesn’t bite me back. Surprisingly it’s squash. Earlier I wrote about replacing pasta with spaghetti squash, which is darn tasty, but there is another much greener squash that also does the trick AND you can eat it RAW if you like or steam it. This special squash is the zucchini.

Zucchini makes for a very bright dish and it’s mild flavour helps enhance the taste of the sauce, so you don’t really realize that you are eating squash instead of pasta. I was told by the lovely folks at Rawesome Living (Saltspring Island, BC) that if you want to eat the noodles raw, just to add a bit of salt and oil and let them sit. The salt will draw out the excess water. That along with the time will soften up the noodles. I haven’t actually tried this yet, but plan on it. Currently I steam the noodles briefly in a steamer (10 minutes) to get them soft and warm.

All you need is a vegetable peeler (which is how I started) or if you want to get fancy, you can by yourself a spiralizer that will make your zucchini go from linguini size (peeler method) to angel hair pasta or larger noodles.


 Zucchini ‘Linguini’ with Chicken, Pesto and Olives

2-3 Large Zucchini’s
1 package of Oliveria’s Pesto Sauce
2 chicken breasts
14 oz can of Black Pitted Olives
Parmesan Cheese

Start by grilling the chicken until it reaches 180 degrees. While it’s cooking you can spiralize your zucchini or using a vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini layer after layer until your reach the seeds. Discard the peel and the seed core. Leave it to sit for a while (Raw option) with a dash of salt and oil or steam for no more than 10 minutes. If you steam it too long the zucchini becomes too mushy.

Cube your grilled chicken and place in a large bowl. Add the can of olives and zucchini. Next add full or half package (depending on your taste) of pesto sauce and stir until everything is well coated.  Plate the dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Taste, eat, yum!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coconut Cherry Cupcakes

Summer is here or so the tourist info centers would like us to believe. I actually appreciate the much warmer and much longer days, but there are still quite a few cloudy, dreary and rainy days out there. They far outnumber the scandalously hot muggy days and so many people complain that summer hasn’t arrived yet.  I could definitely imagine a more amazing summer than what we are experiencing here on Vancouver Island, but I don’t feel like complaining. Compared to the endless dark and rainy winter, this …. this will do! It’s nice enough to be outside and my plants in their quaint planter boxes feel that it is plenty good enough to grow and thrive … as long as I remember to water them, that is.

Right about now is when you start seeing all of the wonderful summer fruits come into their own. Farmers markets, which were closed only a few months ago, are now a cornucopia of perfectly ripe fruits. One of my favorite fruits (among many) being cherries.  

One of our managers at work retired today after over 30 years at the job. Of course, to mark this milestone, as we mark almost all milestones at my job, we had a bbq potluck. Sometimes I get lazy and bring in chips and dip like most people when they don’t have time to make something for a potluck, but I saw this as an opportunity … an opportunity to create something delicious and not have it in my house. I’m trying to eat better and I know that if I have goodies in my house, I will eat them. So if I can get rid of half of them to a potluck then all the better for me. I do end up with some goodies, but not so much that I will have too much.  Also, since cherries have started to show up in our stores I thought it would be a good excuse to make something with cherries in it.  So that is how I ended up with coconut cherry cupcakes.

I bought one of those tiny one bite cupcake tins and used it, but the recipe also works for mini loafs and cake. You just have longer baking times. I was pleasantly surprised when several people came up to me and told me that my cupcakes tasted better than the gluten version that someone else brought in and a few people asked for the recipe.

So without further ado, here it is!



Coconut Cherry Cupcakes

1/3 cup Coconut Oil
¼ cup Cherry Juice (left over from the can of cherries)
6 Eggs (room temperature)
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
¾ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Sea Salt, ground
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract, pure
¾ cup Coconut Flour, sifted
14 fluid ounce can of Bing Cherries, quartered
Pink Food Colouring (optional)

Icing

1 cup Butter, room temp
½ Kilogram (half a bag) of Icing Sugar
¼ cup Cherry Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, pure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease muffin tin well … or line with paper cups.

In a small saucepan melt coconut oil on medium heat until liquid. Whisk in cherry juice. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl blend together eggs and sugar until frothy. Next add baking soda, salt and vanilla extract and blend. Mix in the coconut oil/cherry juice mixture and then add your coconut flour.  Once that has reached an even consistency, fold in the chopped cherries. If the batter is looking suspiciously green as mine was, feel free to add some pink food colouring.  Spoon1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup and bake for 12* minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are golden.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then pop out of tin and place on cooling racks to cool further.

Meanwhile you can make the icing. Simply add all ingredients into a mixer and mix until smooth. If the icing is too runny add more icing sugar and if it’s to stiff add more cherry juice.

Now you can decorate your cupcakes any way you like. If it’s hot out and your icing is starting to melt, simply put it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again.

*For mini loafs bake for about 25 minutes and for cakes try between 35-45 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

RAW Strawberry Freeze Pie


This entry will be quick and sweet, just like the dessert. I am still recovering from my PRK laser eye surgery and although two days ago I was seeing almost perfectly, that was before they took out the protective lenses. Now I’ve taken a few steps back vision wise, which doesn’t make for the best photography or easiest time typing. I am on the mend though and am sure that the outcome will be fantastic. It just takes time!

I’ve been trying to think of desserts that aren’t so loaded in sugar and are grain free and came up with this recipe based on Ani Phyo’s custard tartlette recipe. It’s raw, grain free, no sugar added, dairy free, egg free and amazingly enough tastes great. The boyfriend likes it and asked for seconds, and that pretty much says it all.


RAW Strawberry Freeze Pie

Crust

1 cup Pecans
1 cup Almonds
1 cup shredded Coconut
2 cups pitted Dates
¼ cup Water (optional)

Filling

1 cup Cashews
½ cup Water
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 pint of Strawberry’s (whole, meaning leaves and all)
2 tablespoons Coconut Cream

In a food processor, process nuts into a chunky mix. Then add dates and process until combined. If dates aren’t mixing in well at a little bit of water until the mixture starts sticking together. Spoon mixture onto pie plate and mold into a crust with your fingers.

In a powerful blender add cashews, vanilla extract, water, strawberries and coconut cream. Blend until smooth. Pour ‘batter’ into pie crust. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Before serving, remove from freezer and place in fridge for a few hours to partially thaw and soften slightly. This pie tastes best half way between frozen and soft. Slice and serve. Yum. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce



What can I say? I’m nervous. Tomorrow I am heading to Vancouver and getting laser eye surgery  - PRK to be precise. It’s something I’ve always wanted, but could never afford. Now in my thirties I still can’t really afford it, but I’m getting it for 50% off, so who can say no to that? I’m excited to never need glasses again. I’ve been wearing them since grade 5. I remember that first day when the teacher asked me to read something on the chalkboard and I said I couldn’t. I was shipped off to the optometrist PDQ after that. I had to get my Mom to help me pick out my frames because I couldn’t see them clearly enough when trying them on. So as a result, I went through a number of ridiculously horrible frame choices for many years … until I got contacts. I didn’t get my first pair of contacts until I was in grade 12.   My current set of frames was picked out by a very fashion forward friend of mine and has stuck with me since.  But now it is time to say goodbye to these lovely frames and hello to brand new eyes!

Something else new in my life is this attempt to go grain free. I’m good at sticking to this new diet at home, but when I travel I just stick to trying to stay gluten free and not get contamination. Going grain free while traveling to locations without kitchenettes, microwaves, etc is a little harder. But for the most part I’ve been doing well and as a bonus I’m losing weight! I’ve lost 10 lbs so far, which I’m super happy about.

One of things I found most difficult going grain free is replacing pasta in my life. First I had to switch from wheat pasta to rice pasta and then to no pasta at all? What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ve found a few options and they are surprisingly yummy. In fact, my boyfriend was actually raving about this next one to his friends while we were camping on May Long weekend. I was surprised to hear him boast about how I use spaghetti squash as spaghetti and how it tastes so good, but you know, he’s right. It is darn tasty. I think the squash gives the ‘noodles’ a kind of sweet buttery flavour that just adds all sorts of goodness to a meal. With this recipe, I don’t miss pasta at all!


Spaghetti Squash Pasta and Meat Sauce
Serves 2

2 Spaghetti Squash
500g of Ground Beef
14-0z can of Tomato Paste
1 Onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 Orange Pepper, diced
1 Tomato, diced

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut each spaghetti squash in half. Take a spoon and remove the seeds only. Place each half upside down (so skin facing out) onto an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add some olive oil, chopped onions and garlic. Fry until onions start getting soft. Then add ground beef. Cook until all the pink is gone. Next add in tomato paste and one can of water and stir. Then you can add Italian herbs, pepper and tomato. Cook until peppers are soft. Feel free to add more water or tomato paste to get it to the consistency that you like.  Set aside.

Once the squash is ready, take a fork to the flesh and scoop it out onto a plate. It’s at that point that it will look like spaghetti. Top with meat sauce, Parmesan cheese and serve. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baked Potato Bacon Soup with Dill Cheddar Biscuits



Normally I try to tell a bit of a story to go a long with my posts, but this time it’s going to be short, sweet and very much to the point.

This weekend I spent a great day with my Mom shopping around Chemainus and Ladysmith. We had heard great rumors of the good window-shopping and antique shopping in the area and were not disappointed. During our extensive shopping excursion, we took a break at Bean Time in Ladysmith. They make a fantastic southwest chicken salad, which I’ve enjoyed many a time, but this time I was jealous of my Mom’s lunch. She had their cheddar dill muffin with bacon potato soup. The muffin looked sooooo good.  So once I got home I decided I needed to make my own version and a grain free / low sugar version at that. So here is my recipe. They are both quite quick and easy and very very tasty.



Dill and Cheddar Biscuits
-based on Elana Amsterdam’s Drop Biscuits

2 ½ cups Almond Flour
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Dill
1 teaspoon of Stevia Leaf Powder
¼ cup Grapeseed Oil
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium sized bowl mix the first 5 ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and lemon juice. Add the small bowl to the large bowl, add cheese and mix well with a spatula. Spoon mixture onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes.

Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

10-15 small Red Potatoes
6 slices of Hertel’s GF Bacon
½ bunch of Green Onions
2 cups of Pacific Organic Chicken Broth
½ cup of Lactose Free Milk
¼ teaspoon of Dill
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Boil potatoes in a large pot until tender. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile fry bacon and set aside. In a powerful blender (Vitamix in this case) add all of the ingredients, set on high and let cook for 5 minutes. Mixture should already be hot from boiled potatoes.  Pour mixture out of blender into bowls, dollop sour cream and a dash of dill on top for dramatic effect and consume!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seasonal Allergies and Pineapple Ice Cream



Coughing, sneezing, itchy throat and watery eyes. … does any of this sound familiar to you? That’s right, it’s allergy season for all you seasonal allergy sufferers, myself included.

Growing up on the North Coast of BC our summers lasted about 2 months, if that. There was a lot of clouds and rain and I’m pretty sure one summer while I gallivanted off to Scotland with a friend and her family, my Mom recorded 2 days of sunshine the whole time I was gone. So pollen season is much shorter in Northern BC then it is in other places … especially compared to Vancouver Island where it is green year round and they have an annual bloom count in February! My old hometown would have been buried in snow in February, never mind trying to count how many flowers are out.

But here on the island allergy season is a different story. It starts in February and, for me, it doesn’t end until around October. At one point I developed a nasty cough that just wouldn’t go away. The doctors eventually said it was due to my allergies and the fact that it’s green year round here. My allergies had moved from annoying sneezes into my lungs as a persistent cough.  So I started to take allergy shots. They helped big time, but were a huge inconvenience having to go to the walk in clinic, wait for 30-60 minutes just to get my shot, and then wait another 30 minutes to make sure I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock.

One day I had my shot and they asked if I noticed any symptoms. I was feeling a bit of heartburn, but innocent me had no idea that was related to an allergic reaction and said no. They Okayed me to leave and I drove home. On my way home I noticed that it was getting harder to breathe and that I was wheezing. I knew at that point I was having the allergy symptoms I wasn’t supposed to be having and kept on driving to the emergency room. Of course, the reaction was mild so by the time I saw someone I felt fine, but they pumped me full of meds anyways and then sent me home. After that, I was not allowed to take allergy shots again.

I didn’t realize how much the shots were helping until I went off of them. The next allergy season was awful. I had to stop riding my bike to work because by the time I got there I was almost ready to turn around and go home with the sneezing fits and exhaustion. Everything I love to do is outdoors, and I quickly became a hermit. I even had to get an air purifier for my home. 


This year I wanted to prevent that from happening so, having exhausted traditional routes I decided to see a naturopath and pursue acupuncture. My visit with the naturopath yielded surprising results.  After filling out a survey of symptoms she noted that one group of symptoms was related to sugar intake and that sugar affects how well your kidneys and adrenal glands work. My Dad is diabetic and I definitely show borderline symptoms, so she suggested managing my sugar. She said that this would address some other issues including allergies and female symptoms. Apparently the adrenal glands control the release of cortosol, your body’s response to histamines, so if you can make your adrenal gland s healthier you can lessen the allergy response. It also controls hormones and trust me, my hormones have been going haywire the last few months and I’ve been wondering how my boyfriend puts up with me during those times.

So knowing that some people consider naturopathy hocus pocus (like my boyfriend) I decided to give it a shot anyways. What harm can come of trying to eat well?  I’ve been trying to lessen my intake of grains and sugar and been getting acupuncture on a regular basis and feel like my symptoms are getting better. I still have to take antihistamines, but they last longer and my annoying coughing/sneezing has lessened when I am not on my meds. I also noticed that last month I wasn’t AS cranky as I have been. Don’t get me wrong, I had my episodes, but they weren’t as insane as they have been recently. It’s still too soon to tell if this is really going to work, but so far it feels right.

One other thing my naturopath talked me into trying is something called Pollenguard. It’s exactly like taking allergy shots, only it’s liquid taken under the tongue and then swallowed (sublingual).  Apparently it’s been very effective in Europe for the last 15 years and is just catching on in Canada. Since I know my allergy shots helped, until I reacted to them, I am going to give these drops a try. They are supposed to be much safer than shots and can be done at home. In Canada if you want them, you have to go through a doctor or naturopath, but if you’re interested in them there website is here: http://allergyspecific.com/. I just started them yesterday so I don’t know if they work yet, but man will I be excited if they do.

And now for the completely unrelated recipe to go with this post. I recently purchased myself a Vitamix Blender from Costco and couldn’t be happier! As such, I’ve learned how to make a very yummy Pineapple Ice Cream that I’d love to share with you.



Pineapple Ice Cream

1 whole Pineapple, cubed and frozen overnight
½ cup of Sugar (or 1/3 cup Agave syrup or Honey)
1 cup of Lactose Free Milk (or Almond Milk)
1/2 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Place in Vitamix Blender and blend at high speed until 4 humps form … roughly 30 seconds. Don’t over blend or it will start to melt. Serve and enjoy!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not All Recalls Are Created Equal



Not all recalls are created equal. In Canada Health Canada is in charge of making the laws and regulations surrounding food and drug safety and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is in charge of upholding the laws and regulations for food. The CFIA used to only make Class 1 recalls public … meaning only Class 1 recalls made it to the media so that everyone knows about it.  This is technically still the case, but the CFIA has decided to be more open about recalls and also post the Class II and Class III recalls on their website:


This is great news.

Do you ever hear about gluten recalls in the news? Not so much. It’s because not all recalls are created equal. According to the CFIA website, the CFIA assesses each possible food recall according to risk. This is how they define the three different levels of recalls:

"Class I" (high risk) is a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
"Class II" (moderate risk) is a situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product may cause temporary adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
"Class III" (low risk) is a situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences.

It seems, by watching the new recall openness, that most gluten recalls are classed as II or III’s. It’s probably because although there might be gluten in a product, there might not be enough of it to trigger a reaction? Or perhaps it’s because a Celiac isn’t going to have an anaphylactic reaction? Although, I’m sure there is sound reasoning behind the decisions, I, as a super sensitive Celiac myself don’t agree with most of them. 

Some of them I agree with, though. I saw that there was a recall on a Spelt product and Celiacs are supposed to know that Spelt is an ancient form of Wheat and does in fact contain gluten. Although, trust me, many non-celiacs would like me to believe differently (and I fell for it myself when I was newly diagnosed). So yeah, if you aren't supposed to be consuming it in the first place then it probably doesn't deserve to be a media wide recall.

Anyways, since the recalls at all levels are now being posted on the CFIA website and you can sign up for notifications, we, as a Celiac Community, can now be more aware of the foods to avoid. I highly encourage you to sign up for the notifications and become more aware of the recalls that are out there.  They even have a page where you can select the specific allergen you want to know about and it will show you all of the reports for the past few years:


If you don’t like the CFIA website, there is another website called Health and Safety Watch that is run by a doctor. All of the recalls for toys, food, drugs, drinking water, etc are all listed (for Canada) and if you sign up, you can pick which type of recalls get sent to your email, if you want any sent to your email at all. Check it out here:


Trust me, these notifications come in handy. For instance, I blogged about making a fantastic gluten free curry dinner a while back and although all the ingredients should have been gluten free, I had a reaction. I had just bought all new spices and wasn’t sure if it was the spices or not. I also thought that maybe it was the dessert, as I served gulab jamun for dessert, which I bought from the store (it came in a can). I was mulling it over and thought it must be the dessert because I didn’t have any problems up until that time, but couldn’t say for sure. Of course, since then I haven’t used either the spices or bought the dessert again. Then a few days ago a gluten recall (level II) was posted for undeclared gluten in gulab jamun:


Well now I know that my spices were okay! Sadly, I also know to avoid those tasty tasty treats :( I remember at the time of purchase, wondering how they could make these 'balls' out of just milk and sugar, but the ingredients list did not mention wheat or gluten of any kind. Now I feel slightly vindicated in my suspicions, but apparently I still took the chance because the label was inaccurate.

Stay informed, stay healthy :)