Thursday, December 20, 2012

Triple Chocolate Torte



My Mom has been making this recipe since I was in high school. I don’t remember exactly when she started making it, but I do remember that once she discovered it, she was always asked to make it. Almost every special occasion got this cake, especially the co-workers and their birthdays.  Whenever she made a cake for her co-workers or friends, she always made a second one for us at home. She, of course, passed the recipe on to me years ago, but I’ve never made it. It’s full of gluten.

Now I’m getting much better at adapting recipes, but I did go through a phase where I could not successfully adapt a recipe. I had failure, after failure and so I stopped baking. When I got back into, multi step cakes, seemed just like too much work, so I haven’t gone near this recipe in forever. On top of that, I was told when I was younger that I was/am allergic to chocolate. So a triple chocolate cake just didn’t seem like a bright idea.

Now when I eat chocolate, I think I’ve figured out that it’s actually the caffeine in it that I’m sensitive to. Back in the day Excedrin used to make me throw up every time I took it. I realized that it’s loaded with caffeine, something that I’ve been avoiding the majority of my life, due to it being a migraine trigger. After realizing that just being Celiac is enough to cause migraines (gluten attacks) I have slowly brought it back chocolate into my life. In moderation, it doesn’t seem to bother me. When I eat a lot of it, I start getting nauseous and jittery. So this week hasn’t been the greatest for me because I took a fantastic chocolate making course at the Worldly Gourmet in Ladysmith, made my own chocolates at home and made this cake for a staff Christmas party.  I’m going to go on a chocolate detox … after the holidays :)

As I was making this recipe I didn’t have any milk or buttermilk on me, so I used sour cream instead. 
Perhaps that is the reason that my recipe that should have made two cakes, actually only made one? My suggestion to you would be to make the cake with the dairy option you have available and see how it goes for you. If it only makes enough for one cake, either do what I did and just use one cake, or make a second batch. I wouldn’t double the recipe as you might end up with enough batter for 4 cakes. My photos depict one round cake cut in half and filled with chocolate cream filling. But if it had made two cakes, as it was meant to, it would half three layers of cream because I would have had two cakes, sliced in half (making 4 layers).

Also, because this recipe was given to me ages ago, hand copied, I do not know whom the original creator of it is to give credit.

If you feel like making a chocolate lovers cake that people will go back for thirds for (I’m talking to you retired manager at my staff party) then definitely give this one a shot!



Triple Chocolate Torte

Cake

2 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar, divided
1 ¼ cups Bob Redmill’s GF All Purpose Flour
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grape seed oil
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk* (or sour cream … if you use sour cream add ¼ more oil)

Chocolate Cream Filling

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 ½ cups cold whipping cream
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup or agave
1 tablespoon water
1 cup of gf chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9” round baking pans and set aside.

In a small mixer bowl beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add ½ cup of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining 1 cup of sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add in oil, buttermilk and egg yolks and beat until smooth. Next gently fold the egg whites from the small mixer bowl into the large mixer bowl until batter is evenly mixed.  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched in the centre. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans and cool further on wire wracks. 

While the cake is cooling you can prepare your chocolate cream filling. In a small bowl combine sugar and cocoa. Add whipping cream and vanilla and beat on low speed until blended. Then beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Next place your corn syrup, water, butter and chocolate chips into a medium sauce pan and slowly heat. Stirring occasionally until a nice smooth glaze has formed.

Finally you can assemble your cake. Slice your each cake layer in half. Place one layer on the base of a plate, slather on 1/3 of your cream filling and place another layer of cake on top. Repeat until the last layer is in place. Then instead of cream filling you pour your chocolate glaze over the top of the entire cake.

This cake requires refrigeration because of the whipping cream filling, so take it out of the fridge shortly before actually eating it.

Enjoy!

* To create sour milk mix one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and stir. It should curdle. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Filling and Whipped Cacao Frosting



There is nothing like a little competition to get your creative juices flowing and get you back in the kitchen. At work we are having our annual charity fundraiser events and one of those events is a ‘Death by Cupcakes Contest.’  I am the person who organizes the events, so you’d think I’d pick something that didn’t involve a bunch of food I can’t eat. But I do like proving that gluten free can be just as good as regular baking, and I’m 1 for 2 food contests so far.

One of my co-workers handed me a postcard they picked up with a recipe for “Annie’s Flourless Filbert Cake”, which is gluten free. It was a Galloway’s Specialty Foods recipe card, and I thought I’d try it out. There was of course a small problem with that. I recently had an allergic reaction to filberts (also known as hazelnuts) and had been to an allergy specialist to find out for sure if I was allergic.

I didn’t react to the skin test, but my blood work came back sky high. He asked me my history with hazelnuts and I had said that I’ve had them many times before with no problems but they were always cooked or toasted. The time I had the reaction was when I tried one raw making my raw banana tarts last year.


So he suggested that I might have an oral allergy as opposed to an anaphylactic nut allergy and the only way to test it out, if I wanted, was to do it with lots of people and medicine around. So when my co-worker handed me this recipe with the cupcake contest around the corner I figured why not! I’ll make the cake as I had hazelnuts in a bag that I hadn’t touched since my bad reaction to them and wanted to use them or get rid of them. Then the plan was to take one, baked but not decorated, cupcake to work, where there is allergy medicine and an epee pen and lots of people and try it there. So with about 4 or 5 people staring at me, I took a bite. Nothing happened. After another 15 minutes I took a few more bits. Still nothing. And then since then I’ve had several cupcakes. Hurray! Turns out having them cooked/baked/toasted I’m okay. I just can’t have them raw. That is pretty easy to do.

So I got back to my merry cupcake decorating ways, and decided to jazz up my cupcakes with a sour cherry filling and top them with the suggested whipped cocoa frosting.  My friends, they are delicious!


Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Filling and Whipped Cacao Frosting.
-based on Annie’s Flourless Filbert Cake

2 ½ cups ground hazelnuts (you can make your own in a Vitamix blender)
1 cup sugar
½ cup cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake tin. Then in a large bowl mix hazelnuts, sugar, cacao powder and baking powder together. Then add eggs, one at a time, wile mixing after (or during) each addition.  Pour ¼ of batter into each cupcake liner and then bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Until the top of the cupcake bounces back when you press on it, and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before filing and icing.

To fill the cupcakes, use an apple corer to remove the center of the cupcake (core bits can be made into a personal little trifle with any left over filling and whipped topping, yummy and not wasteful). Then spoon in sour cherry filling and top with whipped cocoa cream frosting. As the frosting is mostly whipped cream, store cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Sour Cherry Filling
-based on recipe by Nick Malgieri

1 598 ml jar of pitted sour cherries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Pour the liquid contents of the sour cherry jar into a medium sized saucepan and set whole cherries aside. Add sugar and heat slowly to simmering, stirring occasionally. In a separate cup or bowl mix cornstarch and water until all of the cornstarch is dissolved. Then pour this mixture into the simmering cherry liquid while stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture becomes clear and thickens you can remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, including the actual cherries that are still in the jar.

Whipped Cacao Cream Frosting

2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup icing sugar
½ cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

In a large bowl, whip the whipping cream, icing sugar, cacao powder and vanilla together until they form stiff peaks. You may chill the bowl for better results. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Iced Pumpkin Cookies


Sometimes you just need to bake something sweet and indulgent to make yourself feel better. My boyfriend and I are long distance relationship’ing it while he goes back to school. After a short but wonderful weekend visit, I was sad to see him go. So to console myself I returned to my kitchen … that has been much neglected with all my work travels of late, and made some iced cookies. They are delicious, soft and oh so pumpkiny … which I love and I hope you do too!



Pumpkin Cookie

2 ½ cups Bob Red Mills gluten free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoons ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder
½ cup butter (softened)

1 cup cane sugar

1 can (398 ml) canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup raisons (optional)
¼ cup sunflower seeds (optional)

Cinnamon Vanilla Butter Cream Icing

½ cup of vegetable shortening
½ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4-5 cups of icing sugar
2 tablespoons of water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, throw all ingredients in and mix well. Scoop with a large spoon onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Top with icing*.

Icing … soften butter to room temperature and then add remaining ingredients and mix well.

* I actually had left over icing that I froze in an airtight container. I just let this defrost and iced the cookies. It was perfect and easy and I still had some left over icing. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lemon Chicken


I’m hitting the reset button this week. I have been away staying in a hotel in Burnaby for two weeks for work related training. Before that I was on another weeklong trip up north in Prince Rupert, also for work.  Mixed along and in the middle of all that I had three weddings, three birthdays, and Thanksgiving. At two of the weddings I played photographer. Luckily at both there was a back up to take the pressure off. I have had a great time, an adventurous time and an exhausting time. So I am very glad to be home right now to get back to happy routines and do some much-needed chores around the house.

I’m also happy to be home to hit the reset button on my diet. My diet has suffered from travelling so much. I ate gluten free the entire time, but with that much time away from home it is difficult not to go out to a restaurant now and then, and when I did, I got sick. Every single time. Then the effects of it would last for days. I spent the last two weeks feeling like a big fat cow. I know, mentally, that it’s only temporary and it’s not the real me, but it’s really hard to push past it. When the only clothes you brought don’t fit properly and you’re in discomfort all day. It can be very trying.

My new way to reset is a very clean simple meal and I eat some variation of it throughout the week until I’m back to normal. This meal is so simple to make and yet each ingredient stands out and is so flavourful on it’s own.  I give you lemon chicken, baked yams and fried Swiss chard.  It is simple and delicious and 100% naturally gluten free.

Lemon Chicken

Olive Oil
4 - Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Lemon
Oregano
Sea Salt
Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Place the chicken breasts in the oil and flip them over to coat them in the oil. Next cut the lemon in half and squeeze both halves over all of the chicken. I use a simple wooden juicer to make it easier. Next sprinkle the tops of the chicken with salt, pepper and oregano. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F and is fully cooked.  (Chicken is done at 180 when whole, or 165 when in pieces).  Remove from the oven and serve with vegetable of your choice.

Fried Swiss Chard

1 Bunch of Swiss Chard (Rainbow or Red)
1-2 Tablespoon(s) of Butter
Pepper
Salt

Place butter in skillet and turn to medium-high heat to melt. While the butter is melting, chop* Swiss chard and add to the skillet. Fry until chard is charred and wilted … about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

* I’ve seen several cooking shows that suggest you remove the centre stem and discard it and only fry the leafy part of the chard. This works and tastes good, but I have a hard time wasting so much of the plant so I chop the stem and add it to the pan as well. It can add a nice bit of texture to it, but may also add bitterness. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

No-Bake Blueberry Custard Tart



My partner in crime, also known as my boyfriend, is going for more post secondary training on the mainland this year. That means a lot of BC ferries rides for me these days to visit. On the last ferry ride I spied beautiful looking blueberry tarts. They looked divine. However, the ferry system here is notorious for not having a lot of allergy friendly food, so I didn’t even bother going to check the tarts out. Instead, I decided to make a version at home.



Since it’s still summer like here, even though the leaves on the trees are beginning to turn, it meant I didn’t feel like baking and turning on a hot oven. So I came up with this quick and easy no bake blueberry tart recipe.


No Bake Blueberry Custard Tarts

Crust

1 cup Almonds, raw
1 cup Cashews, raw
1 cup unsweetened Coconut Flakes
8-12 pitted Dates
¼ cup Water (if needed)

Filling

White Wings Gluten Free Custard Powder package or make your own *

Topping

Fresh Blueberries
Sugar

To start, place almonds, cashews, and coconut into a food processor. Pulse until nuts are a fine mixture (but not quite flour like). Then add your pitted dates and pulse. If the mixture doesn’t start clumping on it’s own, add the water. Mixture should begin to form a ball or clump together easily with your fingers. Press the crust into mini tart pans, pushing the mixture up the sides. Set aside.

Next follow the instructions on gluten free custard powder package to make custard. Let cool slightly and then pour into the tart crusts. Place the custard filled tarts in the freezer to firm up the custard. Once firm (30-60 minutes) you can take them out and top them with fresh blue berries (or any other berry you desire). Sprinkle the tops with sugar and serve. Simple and delicious.

* I got my custard powder in Australia, probably not the easiest place to get custard from. It appears from celiac discussion boards that Birds Custard Powder is also gluten free. Maybe someone out there can say for sure?

Note: If you are following a gluten free diet ensure that your nuts do not have a ‘may contain wheat’ statement on them. I’ve suffered some bad reactions from these. One reliable source of gluten free nuts is nuts.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie (Dairy Free/Gluten Free)


Have you ever thought you knew a quote or something from your past without flaw or error to only find out later that it’s totally wrong? I just found that out now! I swore I remember watching one of my favourite British Comedies, Red Dwarf, when I was in college and a quote that used my name in it, stuck in my head. I thought it was hilarious and so true.

If you know the show, Rimmer was talking to Lister and said something along the lines of (at least I thought he did), “Lister, you don’t like Kochanski, you like someone named ‘Tiffany’ who lives on a corner and drinks orange soda.” I knew there was a few other bits in there but I had forgotten the details. My name is Tiffany, I lived on a corner house when I heard this and orange pop is my ultimate soda flavour. Of course I’d think it coincidence and hilarious.

Well, I went to dig up that quote for this blog and found it to be completely different from what my head had made it up to be. It actually goes like this:

RIMMER
  Your type isn't Kochanski, Listy.  It's someone called 'Tiffany'.  It's
someone who drinks Campari and soda and wears orange crotchless panties;
someone who thinks Deely-boppers are funny; someone who says 'sumfink'
instead of *something*, and laughs like a freshly wounded moose strapped to
a cement mixer.

LISTER
  This from a man who's had less sex than a lettuce...

Not even close! Sheesh. Well I still love orange flavoured things and besides orange pop, I used to love orange creamsicles.

Here is a dairy free orange creamsicle smoothie for a very refreshing breakfast treat!

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

1 frozen banana (peeled)
2 fresh navel oranges
2 cups almond milk
1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 dates (remove pits)

Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and silky. Add less almond milk for a thicker smoothie.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

PRK Laser Eye Surgery


I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails from friends lately, asking me how my experience with laser eye surgery was. I had PRK done over a year ago and I’m still in love with the fact that I can see without glasses. I kept a journal at the time of the surgery so that I could help others understand exactly what to expect. It’s the not knowing, that is so scary. The actual surgery takes less than 15 minutes and is pain free or was for me.

I had my eye surgery done at the Coal Harbour Eye Centre in Vancouver. They were able to provide pre and post op exams in Nanaimo and then the actual surgery took place in Vancouver. When I went, I had gone on a Groupon, which was $1500 for both eyes (at 50% off), including some special tissue saving lens option. They have since dropped their prices to $1700 for both eyes:  http://www.seewell.ca/fee_schedule.html I had a good experience with them and would recommend them (they are not aware of this article I’m writing).  Also, I’d like to mention that even though I did purchase the Groupon, I researched Coal Harbour Eye Centre as thoroughly as I possibly could before purchasing it. I did not want to mess around with my eyes.
(Photo Credit: Brad Scromeda)

There are two types of Lasik Eye Surgery … one is actually Lasik and the other is PRK. Lasik eye surgery uses the laser to create a flap in your. They lift the flap and then use the laser on your cornea. Once the adjustments are made they lower the flap and you can see right away. There is no ‘blurry’ phase because there is nothing to heal. The flap of your is, however, just held in place by gravity, so it can be knocked loose or prone to infection.

PRK is what I had done because at -6 in both eyes, I didn’t have enough eyeballs to do Lasik. My only option was PRK. I’m glad I chose it though, because even though you have a longer recovery, you can still play high impact sports and not have to worry about your eye flap coming loose because you don’t have one. Instead of making a flap, they chemically burn a thin layer of cells from your eyeballs before using the laser. This is why there is the longer recovery, because you have to wait for the cells in your eyes to grow back before you see 100%.   In the meantime they can’t give you prescription lenses because your prescription is changing daily.

After my surgery I had to wear sunglasses outside (no matter if it was sunny or not) for 6 months. So, if you choose this option, invest in a good pair of sunglasses. I wore mine as prescribed and only recently would willingly go outside without them. My eyes are more sensitive to light even now, but nothing like when I first had my surgery. When I first had my eyes done I couldn’t watch TV because the light was too bright. I couldn’t see to read either, so entertainment was an issue. I listened to audio books and slept a lot. Even during the second week when I was getting closer to being able to drive, I tried riding my bike to get around. The wind on my eyes (with the sunglasses on) was too much and I didn’t even make it a block. Be prepared to be pretty much helpless for 2 weeks solid. After that you will be able to go back to work, but you will have to squint and make the fonts bigger and possibly only work half days, if your job involves a lot of computer work. Your eyes will get tired (never knew they could) and you will have to rest them every day for another few weeks afterwards. That is something to consider when planning the timing of your surgery too.

When I first wrote my journal I had the font size up quite large and had the font white with a black background. I was very light sensitive and that was the only way I could stare at a screen long enough to write my journal. The light sensitivity lessens greatly after a few weeks.

Here is a journal of my experience …

PRK Surgery

Day 1:

The morning leading up to my eye surgery was nerve racking to say the least. I was making myself nauseous with anxiety about the whole thing, but like they say … it wasn’t all that bad.

My appointment was fro 2:45 – 4:45 and only ran 5 minutes late. The Coal Harbour Lasik Eye Care Centre that performed my surgery runs like a well-oiled machine. I sat in the waiting room and then my name was called. I thought … here we go here’s the end of my life, as I know it. But little did I know it was just the start of my name being called several times. The first was to take images of my cornea, then back to the waiting room. Next I was called in for images of the outside of my eyeballs on a few various machines and then back to the waiting room. Next it was going over all the waivers signing your eyes away in case anything goes wrong and payment and back to the waiting room. Finally you get called in for eye exams, which get done by multiple doctors to ensure accuracy. Then smiling surgeon comes in and greets you. He goes over all the data and information they’ve collected on you, looks at your eyes and tells you that he will see you in 15 minutes. Then they send you to a quiet room with couches and water and you wait.

While you wait you can hear the laser working on the current victim and it’s a bit disconcerting. The noise is chilling to my ears. Which didn’t help my nerves at all.  After about 10 minutes one of the helpers comes in and helps you with a hair net and booties for your shoes. Five minutes she’s back and leading me into the big laser room.  I put my stuff down on chair and then lay on the table provided. They squirt lots of drops into your eyes; some of them numbing and then cover one with gauze. They also stuff something squishy by your ears, which I figured out later is to catch all the cold water they dump on your eyes. One eye covered they slide you under the machine and tell you to look at the red light. They say you will feel pressure and I do. It’s them putting the eyelid clamps in place. Luckily they do it in such a way that you don’t ever see them, as I think that would just make it too terrifying. They don’t hurt like I imagined they would. They just stop you from blinking. I can feel my eye twitching against it and then it settles down. More drops in the eye and then the doctor lowers a ring down. You can see it coming but it’s strange as you don’t feel it and it looks like it’s just hovering there. More drops … these ones are the chemical that is burning your eye although you can’t feel it burning, then gauze and q-tip to wipe away the fluid and dead cells. Amazingly it all just looks like you are watching it happen to someone else because it still looks like they aren’t actually touching your eye and you can’t feel it. More drops then stare at the little red light. I think the noise of the laser scared me more then the laser itself. I think I can feel a tiny pressure but not really … all I see is the little dot go from a tiny blinking light to an ever growing blurry star of multiple red lights. It’s far easier to stair in one spot then I thought, especially when the spot is getting bigger and bigger. Then the noise stops and they cover your eye with gauze and then splash it down with lots of cold water. It’s a bit shocking but feels good after the initial shock and just ignore it all dripping off the side of your face. Now they place a protective lens on your eye to wear for two weeks. Then they cover up that eye and move on to the next. They count down from 30 while it’s happing in case you are freaking out, you know how many seconds you have left. Then you are done! I was shaking uncontrollably after but I think just because I had built it up to be a much scarier event than it really was. Once it’s done you go into a quiet room and put drops in your eyes every 5 minutes for 15-20 minutes. Then that’s it. Go home and follow your drops schedule. I felt no pain at all and only started to feel discomfort a few hours later. Conveniently every time it was getting bad it would be time for more drops and then I’d feel better again.  Oh and I saw better right away. They say you come out with blurry vision, which is true … it’s like looking through a shower curtain or frosted window, but when you had vision as bad as mine to start even the blurry you end up with is a huge improvement. Every time I put drops in, things become crystal clear for a few seconds and apparently that’s what I have to look forward to. It’s because the drops fill in the space of your missing cells and make the surface of your eyeball smooth for a split second. So once your eyes have healed it should look like that split second … and that split second is glorious.

Day 2:

My right eye has no issue; it’s still blurry, but no discomfort. My left eye is driving me nuts. It feels scratched to hell and like there is something stuck in it. Have you ever put in contacts that had a piece of grit on them and then took them out right away to rinse them? Well it feels exactly like that only you can’t take them out and rinse them. You have to put up with it, and at one point I was contemplating digging around my eyeball with spoon to take it out. Then all of a sudden it stopped. The discomfort was still there; it was just far milder and far more tolerable.  I am noticing as the day goes on and my eyes get more and more tired that my vision is getting blurrier and blurrier. But I’m certain it will be better after a good nights sleep.

Day 3 

Today is a rather uneventful day. No major discomfort. My left eye started out being a bit hazy in the bottom left corner and grew hazier throughout the day. My right eye took much longer to start hazing over. It has been very sunny and I’ve become super light sensitive, however. I have taken to wearing a ball cap and sunglasses inside and nearly dying outside. I’m staying at my boyfriends parents so not everything I would normally have access to is readily available, so it’s their ball cap I’m borrowing. I think I would wear a sleep mask outside just to lie in the sun but not bother my eyes. My eyes get really dry and blurry after about 12 hours, so I’ve been going to bed early. First listening to an audio book for about an hour before actually going to sleep.

Day 4 

This morning my left eye was hazy right off the bat. My right eye was seeing double! I felt like my eyes were more swollen and poufy (lids more then eyeballs) then previously, and more so on the left eye, but that feeling is gone by the afternoon and so is the double vision. I can certainly see better amongst all the haze and random vision changes. I can read what I’m typing now, where on day one I couldn’t; some days I see better out of different eyes. In fact yesterday I could read better with the hazy left eye then I could with my right. Today my right eye is way better then the left for reading. I attribute all the changes to the cells growing back differently and am presuming it’s all good news. I still see crystal clear after a good night sleep and drops first thing in the morning for a few minutes at least.

Day 5-7

No pain or grainy feeling at all during the days. Day 6 and 7 my eyes clear of all haze and I can almost see perfectly. Hurray! Still some slight blurriness for reading and the occasional very far away thing but pretty darn amazing.

Day 8  

Today I got my protective lenses removed. What a drag! The process is easy and quick, however, my nearly perfect vision took a torpedo dive instantly. I also felt like my eyes were made of sandpaper. Kind of depressing really, but I was warned that would happen. I was seeing double and halos and blurry, but can still read large font. I have to lean in close and squint for small stuff.  I think I’m basically back to Day 4, all over again.

Day 9 

The gritty sandpaper feeling persists until about noon. I took some Cod Liver Oil and will continue to take it, in hopes that it will speed up the healing in my eyes. I’m assuming the Omega 3’s will help and it’s also known to be anti-inflammatory which is what most of my drops are doing anyways.  Again today is quite blurry and now my eyes tend towards the dry side, but at least they feel much better than last night.

Day 10 and on – I stopped actually journaling my experience after day 10. I was told that I would go through a period of time where my eyes would appear to get worse and then slowly get better; and I was told that I would be depressed during that time because it would take longer than I’d want it to. That is exactly what happened. I could see a million times better than before the surgery, however, I couldn’t see as clearly as I could when I had been wearing glasses. This time period seemed to take forever (about 2-3 months) because each day was so gradual I couldn’t really tell that I was improving. Really, if you think about it, I had to wait for my body to regenerate the cells on my eyeballs and that is going to take some time.

For the first 2-3 months I saw double or halos of some things and not others. Most things that were halo like were signs, lights and the white lines on the roads. I could see them; there were just two of the same line, one would hover above the other. These effects lessened gradually and I would say are completely gone, except for neon lit signs at night.

Finally after 3 months I was told I had 20/15 vision, which is just a little better than 20/20.

The only down fall that I have noticed is slightly poorer night vision. I did not feel that my night vision was all that great before the surgery, but afterwards it is a little worse. I can still drive at night, but I do try and avoid it. It’s not the darkness; it’s all the lights. Any light (at night), including stars, neon signs, streetlights, etc glow brighter than they used to. Car lights/street lights are starrier … they actually look like twinkling stars with the thin strips of light emanating from them instead of a solid circle of light. Stars in the night sky twinkle even more than they used to and I like that. It makes the night seem to have more magic … but that is definitely a downfall for driving.

If you are still looking for more information, try reading this person’s journal. It’s even more descriptive then mine: http://freakingawesome.net/category/life/eyes/

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (dairy free, gluten free, egg free)



August has been a very hot month. Made hotter still by my work. Today we wore tyvec suites (white full body coveralls) and walked through green houses when it was 24 + degrees C outside and even hotter inside.  I had no idea I could sweat that much. I thought I sweat a lot during hot yoga, but I’ve discovered an even sweatier sport … anything done in a tyvec suite on a hot day. But hey, some people pay good money to sweat out all of their toxins and we were getting paid to do it.  But you know what makes a hot, sweaty, underwear soaked through day worth it? Ice Cream.

I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’m lactose intolerant as well as gluten free, so ice cream is a bit of a tricky one. But recently I’ve noticed one of my old favorites resurfacing on other foodie blogs, mint chocolate ice cream.  Oreo cookie was my other favorite. However, there is just something about mint and chocolate … and guess what is in abundance in gardens this time of year? Mint.

So I tried making mint chocolate ice cream, lactose free, and it worked! Most of my ice cream concoctions of late haven’t been the best, but this one is so soft and creamy and delicious, I must share it with you!


Mint Chocolate Ice Cream
-       -based on Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

1 can  (398 ml) of Coconut Milk
1/3 cup pure Maple Syrup
1 cup of fresh Mint Leaves
¼ cup ‘enjoy life’ gf Chocolate Chips

Place coconut milk in a saucepan and stir in maple syrup and mint leaves. Slowly bring to a simmer on medium heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then transfer liquid into a bowl and place in the fridge overnight.  If you are going to make the ice cream right away put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to help it cool down faster. Leaving the mixture overnight helps the mint flavour become stronger …  it will be quite mild if you use it right away.  When you’re ready to make ice cream, strain the mint leaves out and pour the liquid into your ice cream maker and follow the directions.  Very simple and very delicious.

Notes:
-      - I bet this would taste great if you had chocolate mint leaves. Sadly mine were covered in aphids.
-      - If you want your ice cream to be green, like the store bought version, just add green food colouring.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Honey Lime Chicken with Caprese Salad


Well call me consistently inconsistent, but I’m back. I took the month of June off of my regular 9-5 job to take a 200 hour Yoga teachers training course and well, it took all of my time! I had hoped that I might continue the blog in my off hours, but it didn’t pan out that way.  It’s taken a while to get back into the swing of things because I’m now trying to get all the legal paperwork in order to be able to teach yoga to others. I have the training (or at leas the beginnings of it) to train, but I need the business paperwork / insurance to get in order. I’ve also been getting used to living on my own again … at least during the week. My partner has buggered off to school, so we are in long distance mode and that has definitely affected my cooking. Why cook all fancy when it’s just me? But I found reasons to cook and bake fancy before I met my boyfriend, I’m sure I can find them again.

To get this blog kick started again, I’ve made for you a simple yet refreshing (and healthy!) chicken dinner. I learned this recipe a few years ago and honestly cannot remember where or who from, but it’s so darn good and easy, I had to share it. Plus, in the summer time Caprese salads become my all time favorite side dish. It’s so easy to whip one up, especially when you grow your own cherry tomatoes!

So without further a due ….


Honey Lime Chicken Skewers

Fresh Chicken Breast or Thigh, cubed or cut into strips (whatever floats your boat)
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Grape seed Oil
Juice of one Lime
Pepper (optional)

In a small bowl or casserole dish, whisk together honey, oil, limejuice and pepper. Once it is well blended place the chicken in it and marinate for a minimum of 1 hour. Don’t forget to place wooden skewers in clean water for the same amount of time. Skewer the marinated chicken and grill or bbq until chicken is cooked all the way through.


Caprese Salad

Cherry Tomatoes
Baby or Pearl Bocconcini (mozzarella balls)
Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Wash cherry tomatoes and place in a bowl. Place the same amount or half the amount of Bocconcini. It’s a salad you can eyeball whatever looks good to you. Finely chop a few large basil leaves and sprinkle on the tomatoes. Then drizzle equal parts oil and balsamic vinegar, use a spoon to mix all ingredients together and serve this lovely fresh summer salad.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Glaze


Having recently been on a sugar detox, cupcakes where high on my mind. But with only two of us, and most of my co-workers on a diet, I couldn’t really come up with a reason to make them, as there is no way I can make it through 18 cupcakes in a week. Enter invite to my neighbours 60th birthday party AND a cupcake contest by Easy Eats.  Now that is the perfect excuse, because now I can make two kinds of cupcakes and give most of them away (and just keep a few for us).

Easy Eats is my new favourite gluten free magazine. It comes out bi-monthly and electronically, so I can always reference it but it doesn’t take up any space in my house. It is very colourful and easy to read and well laid out. Plus it has a lot of fun recipes to make. In the latest issue they talked about Crave Bake Shop (a gluten free bakery in the states) winning twice on The Food Networks "Cupcake Wars". Now competing on a show like that is crazy enough, it’s even more awesome when the gluten free cupcakes win! Apparently there is one grand finally coming on June 10th. I am crossing my fingers that Crave Bakery comes out on top and show the world that gluten free baking can be just as good as gluten full baking. The last episode that Crave competed in was Madagascar themed and they had to use ingredients from the area. One of the recipes they came up with was Lightly Spiced Yam cupcake with Coffee Pastry Cream filing and Mascarpone Clove topping. I made these cupcakes as part of an Easy Eats contest. Normally I wouldn’t make cupcakes this complicated, but it was fun. I actually found them a little too sweet and if I were to make them again I would half the sugar, but I was surprised how good the yam blended into the cake! My boyfriend loves them. Yum.



Now since I wanted two types of cupcakes, but didn’t want to spend so much time on the second batch, I combined another Easy Eats recipe idea with the new Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake mix. Easy Eats had a recipe for chocolate doughnuts with a peanut butter glaze, so I put their glaze on my chocolate cupcakes and boy are they delicious and super easy to make!

If you are craving cupcakes, here is my Easy Eats inspired recipe…



Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Glaze

1 box of Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
½ cup Peanut Butter
¼ cup Unsalted Butter
½ cup Icing Sugar
¼ cup Light Corn Syrup

Mix and bake chocolate cupcakes as per directions on the box. Let them cool completely on a wire rack. While they are cooling, place remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir until mixture becomes smooth. Using a spoon drizzle glaze over top cupcakes. Crushed peanuts may be sprinkled on top for added effect if so desired. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grain Free Chocolate Banana Waffles



Recently I participated in a 21-day sugar detox. Technically I only made it 17.5 days because I had to travel during the last days, but it was pretty good. I wanted to do it because I was eating too many sweats and I wanted to loose some weight. I did lose 3.5lbs. The diet, sneakily, is designed to send you towards paleo eating. I like paleo in that it is grain free and fairly healthy, but I don’t like how much meat is consumed. My favourite dinner styles are paleo or raw and raw is the complete opposite, being all nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies. Any who, the diet was pretty awful during the first 4 days while my body was detoxing (or so they tell me). I was nauseous, light headed, dizzy and hungry. They say you can eat as much as you like, but my body is a carboholic (even if it’s gluten free carbs) and doesn’t like to feel full unless I have carbs. This diet took them away in most counts, including potatoes and even all-natural fruits. I LOVE fruit. When they said sugar free, they meant all sugars, not just white refined sugar. After those 4 days though, I felt fantastic. I didn’t have any of those sugar lows through out the day and had lots of energy. The only time I didn’t feel well again was after a huge hike, where I probably should have used the athlete modifications. Now that I’m done the diet, I’m still eating in a similar style. I’ve brought back fruits but the desserts aren’t calling my name as much. I had a strawberry shake the other day and it tasted too sweet and I hadn’t added any sugar too it! That being said, I need to make sweets to gain my readers attention. I get WAY more hits when I post a recipe for a sweet then something savory. We do love our sweets. So today I bring you grain free Chocolate (or Carob) Banana Waffles.


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

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
1 cup flax seed meal
¼ cup agave syrup
4 eggs
½ cup butter
1-2 overly ripe bananas, mashed
4 tablespoons water or coconut water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup cocoa powder/carob powder
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat waffle iron to 265 degrees F.  In a large bowl, melt butter. Then add eggs, banana, 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 chocolate/carob chips.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Update


This past month has been a very busy one for me and incredibly stressful at times to.  My job security was in question and those of my co-workers. Some of them were affected and some of them were not. Luckily for me mine was not affected, however, it doesn’t make it any easier to see my co-workers struggle.  I feel for them and I feel for myself. I have a job and I’m extremely lucky to have one. I am not as lucky as I used to be though, as my career advancement opportunities and job security have deteriorated. I like to keep my work and my blog separate, so for that reason I won’t go into any more detail, but it has been a very stressful month.

Then on top of that I was quite busy with a lot of travel on the weekends. I went to Victoria several times for various things, including a 6-hour photography workshop (fun but sadly not food photography related), allergy specialist appointment confirming that I am allergic to the world, an professional 2 day annual general meeting and my birthday. I also had a trip to Vancouver for Easter and a pampered chef party in there too.

The pampered chef party was fun and if you want to go to one in the Burnaby area, I can hook you up with a friend who is a consultant. She demonstrated some products and even made a gluten free version for me. It was fun to try the products and having been to a pampered chef party when I was young with my Mom I was already sold on the quality of products. I still have many of the products that my Mom got me and that she bought but never used. I use them all the time! This time I bought a micro planer for zesting fruit and shredding some Parmesan cheese and it is so ridiculously easy to use.

As for my birthday, I am officially 33 years old. Normally I like making a big deal of my birthday and usually turn it into a weeklong celebration, but this time I found it harder to come up with a way to celebrate. I wanted to spend time with friends but in the past I have always had a big group dinner at a restaurant followed by dancing at a club. I’m officially too old for clubs now … they just aren’t as fun as they used to be. As for big dinners, when it comes to a restaurant you only end up talking to the people across from you or next to you, which isn’t fair to everyone. Then the food almost always makes me ill, no matter how hard the restaurant tries.

So I planned a hike. Only my boyfriend, brother, cousin and her dog managed to make it out, but that was great company to have. We hiked up a moderate mountain and laughed constantly at our doggy friend who probably hiked 3 times as much as we did as he ran back and forth between us and then in circles as we stopped at the top for lunch. In the evening, we were invited over to some other friends for a bbq where they made me a gluten free birthday cake. It was another great time and super nice of the host, as we hadn’t seen her in two years!

For the next while my blog may go on even more of a hiatus then usual. I know I’m not that great at posting regularly but I am on Day 2 of a 21-day sugar detox. I don’t have a great history of getting through detoxes or diets, so we’ll see how long this one actually lasts for, but that doesn’t leave me with a lot of exciting recipes to post about. Then in the month of June I will be taking a yoga teachers training course, which is 6 days a week for 4 weeks. So I will have zero time to focus on my blog. I do not plan on leaving permanently and hope to find some time to make a yummy recipe post, but I can’t make any promises. Hope to see you soon!