Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gluten Free Expo

Last weekend I attended the first ever Vancouver Gluten Free Expo. It was awesome. Luckily I was one of the many that got there early and so I didn’t have to wait in line very long, but it looked like there was a huge line up when I left as it snaked up and down the hall to the doorway.

As it was the first event there was a tiny bit of room for improvement, such as a larger facility, more booths, more talks and having the booths ready to go by the time the doors open, but some of those improvements are just because I liked it so much I wanted more of it. It was great to go around a room and feel confident that you could taste and try whatever it is you wanted without fear of getting sick, and that is exactly what I did.

One thing I didn’t know is that there would be talks/workshops. There were two listed on the door, but I don’t recall seeing them on the website. Had I known in advance I would have planned my visit around them. I did, however, get a chance to catch one of Ellen Bayen's talks about what it is to be gluten free (for Celiacs and people who are gluten sensitive).  For me, it was a repeat of what I already know. However, I was there with my boyfriends Mom and she said it was very eye opening and learned a lot from it. So it was a great talk for newbies or people who have Celiacs in their lives and even though I already knew most of it, it was still very interesting.  Ellen runs the website “The Celiac Scene” which I love because it helps me find safer places to eat all across Canada and the US, when I travel.

It’s a toss up to what my favorite part was. I really enjoyed discovering new products, such as Boring Porridge who should really change their name … to “anything but boring porridge” because if I didn’t taste it I probably wouldn’t have bought it! It is very delicious with yogurt. I also was able to get some buckwheat flour and ran into the owners of Origin Bakery in Victoria, who were asking whether the flour was tested and certified gluten free. I never have problems with their dedicated bakery, but I was even more impressed knowing they make sure their incoming ingredients are certified.  One of my favourite things to buy is Curry flavoured Vegi Pate and sure enough Kootney Kitchens had a booth and priced their product basically at 2 for 1. Fantastic! Panne Rizo was also there which is my other favorite gluten free bakery but I had already stalked up the day before at their bakery so I didn’t have to try and break through the swarm around their booth.

There were many booths, many new products and many products I was already familiar with. The great thing about familiar products, such as the Udi’s, Glutino, El Peto, Kinnikinnik, etc is that I can taste those things I’ve been eyeing up but not sure I want to spend 7 bucks on if it’s not so great. At the expo I could find out for free!

The price of the expo was free with donation to the food bank. I thought that was a fantastic idea. Gluten free products were encouraged and I think they should definitely do that again if they have another event next year.

My hope for this event is that it just keeps getting bigger and better, because for a Celiac, it’s one heck of a fun way to spend the weekend!

Speaking of fun weekends. I was lucky enough to attend the Celiac Conference when it was last in BC (Victoria to be precise) a number of years ago, and it is back in BC. This year’s event is being held in Kelowna on May 25th - 27th.  If you can make it there, it’s a great way to eat great safe food all weekend, learn tonnes of new stuff from all the speakers and check out the expo that is usually part of the conference. For more details check out the Kelowna Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association here:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cinnamon Ice Cream (dairy free / egg free / gluten free)

My boyfriend and his father are huge ice cream fans. In fact they seem to go out of their way to get ice cream, especially in the summer. I like ice cream, but I’ve never been a huge fan. Ice cream in a waffle cone on the other hand, those are good! I just never liked the mess of melting sugary goo all over my hands, the crumbly cones, and the cold teeth. My favorite form of ice cream was to have it melting on hot apple crumble. The ice cream cooling the crumble, cutting the sweetness and adding a silky smooth creamy feeling while the hot crumble warms the ice cream and adds a touch of crunch. That is the perfect way to enjoy ice cream.

Of course, Celiac and lactose intolerance go hand in hand. Your already sensitive intestines find it even more difficult to deal with lactose, when newly diagnosed. For some people this may pass and you can get back to eating real ice cream, but for many others and me it sticks. For me it’s fairly mild, but burping every 30 seconds for an hour or two isn’t the most welcome thing while at work or social events.

So when a friend of mine offered to give me her mostly un-used ice cream maker I thought it would be a fun way to make a safe ice cream. Something fun for my boyfriend who loves ice cream and something that won’t set my tummy a rumbling. Technically ice cream sets his tummy rumbling too, but he will eat it any ways!

Any who, one of my favorite ice creams is called Cinnamon Ice Cream and it only comes out in winter for the holiday season. So for the first ice cream in my new ice cream maker and the first ice cream for the season I made Cinnamon Ice Cream. It’s fantastic on it’s own with the grit of the Cinnamon giving it an almost Chocolate Malt texture and it goes really well with apple pies or apple crumbles. It’s very simple and delicious.

Cinnamon Ice Cream
-based on recipe written by Chef Kate 

2  -14 Oz cans of Coconut Milk*
½ Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

Pour all three ingredients into a Vitamix and blend until well combined. Then pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturers directions.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker just pour the mixture into a baking dish and place in a freezer. Take it out and stir vigorously every 30 minutes until it has formed the desired consistency. Stirring vigorously breaks up the ice crystals as they form and helps produce a smoother ice cream.

*Put your coconut milk in the freezer a few hours before hand to help speed the process up … but don’t forget them there or they will be solid to work with. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust (Grain Free)

Tonight was an evening of learning lessons. Just one major one, but one worth learning. Tonight I learned that mistakes can be salvaged. Oh I’m sure the mistakes one makes in life can be rescued, as I can probably supply a long list of personal examples … however, in this case I’m talking about mistakes in the kitchen.

Tonight, while my body decided to try and ward off a cold, which meant my body was torturing me through throbbing lymph node, aching neck and pounding headache, I decided I wasn’t going grocery shopping to get knew fresh food and that I would make do with what I had on hand. So digging back into the dredges of my freezer I found some turkey and chicken broth and decided to make a turkey pie.

Of course, I’m on this grain free quick (not 100% of the time, but trying to make it about 80-90%) and thought I’d try making the crust out of quinoa flour and other elements.  I think it would have turned out great, had I not put WAY too much chicken broth in with my turkey pie filling. Even though I pre-baked the crust, after 35 minutes of baking the crust had turned into a big soggy mess. Normally this would be enough to make me give up, throw it away and finger cook with Boston Pizza.  For some reason though, tonight I figured what the heck … when I eat a chicken pot pie, I end up mashing it all together and eating it one big mess anyways, so I pulled the pie from the oven and mashed it all around mixing in the soggy crust and baked crust (it was half and half) and threw it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.  When the timer beeped I spooned the mystery food onto a plate with salad and carrots and said “here’s your mystery dinner”.  There is none left … C went back for 3rds. Sure it didn’t look good, but it tasted just like a turkey pot pie would when you mashed it around a bit , and the extra time in the oven got rid of the extra liquid.  So don’t always give up on your ‘disaster’ as they may not be one. Now I know to put less liquid in it next time and it probably will turn out just fine.

Sadly, because it was an utter visual disaster, I will not be posting a recipe for the yummy dinner I had this evening, but instead I will share a recipe with you that I was also shocked to have turn out.  My boss mentioned that his daughter was trying out this new pizza crust recipe and said he would get the recipe for me. I have tried it a few times and am amazed at how easy it is and how tasty it is. C goes back for 2nds and 3rds of this recipe as well. I wish I knew who came up with the original recipe to give them credit, but I do not.

In the meantime, if you would like a grain free pizza crust that is fluffy and delicious try this!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

2 cups cooked Cauliflower
2 cups shredded Cheese (cheddar/mozzarella)
1 Egg
½ Onion, chopped (optional)
2-4 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning (optional)

In a food processer place cooked cauliflower and process until it looks like rice. Place cauliflower in a large bowl with remaining ingredients and mix with spatula until well blended.  Then dump mixture onto a baking sheet covered in tinfoil and greased. Spread out into one large pizza or several smaller pizzas. Bake in the oven until golden brown (approx 20 minutes). Remove from oven and top with favorite toppings. In this case it’s pizza sauce, salami, tomatoes and feta and mozzarella.
Move the rack up one level in the oven and then broil the toppings on the pizza until all the cheese is melted and crust is golden (approx 10-15 minutes).  Remove, eat and enjoy!

Side notes … the smaller the crust the more you will be able to actually pick it up and eat it like a pizza with your hands. If it’s a large pizza you will probably have to use utensils. Same goes for next day pizza! It will get a little soft over night in the fridge, so be prepared to use utensils if there are any left over’s. It still tastes great, it just won’t hold together.