Avocado Encore: Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I know that it’s Easter weekend and the typical thing to post about would be Easter-related. We’re not exactly holding the traditional Easter weekend this year. So, I thought I’d do a post on a recipe that I tried out last week.

Remember how I had said in my Mango Avocado Salsa post that my Quack had recommended that I eat more avocados? Not long after I did that post, I found an article in my Living Without magazine all on Avocados. If you are a subscriber to the magazine, you can get the full Avocados article when you log in here. If you’re not a subscriber, and are interested in the article, you can buy that particular issue (February/March 2013) here under Recent Living Without Back Issues.

The article includes the following recipes (for those of you with a subscription, you’ll be able to use the below links to log-in and access the recipes if you’re February/March 2013 issue isn’t handy):

Avocado Lemon Quick Bread
Avocado Dinner Rolls
Chocolate Avocado Muffins
Blueberry Avocado Pancakes
Simple Avocado Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Avocado Chocolate Pudding

So far I’ve only tried the Avocado Chocolate Pudding, but I intend to try most, if not all, of these recipes.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender, so the pudding came out with some small avocado chunks in it. I think it’s time that I finally invest in a food processor. Speaking of food processors, local blogger Colorful Canary just did a post on a BPA-free Glass Bowl Food Processor that looks economical.

Because Living Without is a subscription based website, I didn’t want to reproduce the recipes here. I did notice that the Avocados article was written by another blogger, Colette Martin, of Learning to Eat Allergy Free. So I checked out her blog and she just happened to have the Chocolate Avocado Pudding recipe there. The only difference is on the blog the serving size is half of that in the Living Without article (Living Without version Serves 4) as well as the Living Without version also recommends to refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. So I’ll direct you over to Colette’s blog to check out her Chocolate Avocado Pudding recipe.

If you’ve tried this recipe, let me know what you think! I thought it was delicious! 🙂

Mango Avocado Salsa

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One of the foods that my Quack suggested that I incorporate into my diet was avocados. “Great”, I thought sarcastically, “I don’t particularly enjoy guacamole”.

So when I discovered this Mango Avocado Salsa recipe in Free For All Cooking (check out an overview of the cookbook in this post), I thought it was a great way to incorporate avocados because I hadn’t yet had a chance to do any searching for recipes using avocados, and I have loved mangoes ever since my first Mango Daiquiri at the Mexican resort that our good friends got married at, in back in 2011.

Mango Avocado Salsa

(from Free For All Cooking)

Serves 4

1 large mango, peeled and diced

1 large ripe Haas avocado, peeled and diced

1 cup black beans, rinsed

1/2 ear cooked corn, cut off of the cob

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Approximately 3/4 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss together to combine. Taste to determine if you like more spice.
  2. Serve with corn tortilla chips, Golden Potato Latkes, Fish Tacos, or over grilled white fish like tilapia, orange roughy, or flounder.

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I didn’t have Tabasco on hand so I decided to throw on a dash of Tex-Mex spice and topped it with a dab of sour cream. It was delicious and a great option for anyone with an tomato allergy/intolerance who miss the ability to enjoy salsa (I’d caution to check any spice mixes that you might use to ensure that they are free of tomato).

What types of recipes do you like for incorporating avocados?

Second Time’s A Charm: Granissimo Andean Mix Salad

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While shopping at Winner’s Home Sense, during the period between Christmas and New Years, I discovered this Go Go Quinoa product:

I figured I’d give it a try considering how I LOVE their Granissimo mix which I use regularly to make Go Go Quinoa Salad. Like with the Granissimo mix, I decided to go with the recipe on the back of the package.

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I unfortunately didn’t have carrots in my fridge at the time or celery, although I did have some celery salt so I decided to go ahead with what I had.

Andean Mix & Pumpkin Seeds Recipe1

Although it looked like it was going to taste great, the result was just ‘meh’. I thought that “salt and pepper to taste” was a bit of an understatement, but to their credit my attempt at the recipe was lacking the carrot and the celery. Perhaps these two components would round out the recipe by adding a sweet and savoury note.

I had kinda given up on the mix and it laid dormant in my pantry until I discovered their Granissimo Andean Mix Salad recipe while searching for recipes on their website to use with their Anelli Vegetable Pasta (which I later used to make Gluten-Free Spaghettios).

Granissimo Andean Mix Salad

by Go Go Quinoa

Ingredients:

1 cup of Granissimo Andean Mix with pumpkin seeds

1 cup of corn

2 mangos diced

2 cups of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1 cup of dried cranberries

½ red onion thinly sliced

3 tablespoons of olive oil (or more to taste)

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)

1 red pepper diced

Salt to taste

Preparation:

In a medium pot, cook 1 cup of Granissimo in 2 cups of water until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside, add the olive oil and let cool until room temperature. Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Andean Mix & Pumpkin Seeds Recipe2

I didn’t wait for the salad to cool in the refrigerator. I ate it while it was still warm and it was delicious. I placed the remainder in the fridge so that I could bring it to work the next day, and about an hour later friends showed up with my guy and they asked what smelled so delicious. I grabbed a bowl and took out a small serving from the fridge for him to try. He had a funny look on his face and said “This would probably taste a lot better if it were warm”. I had said that I had only made the recipe that night for the first time and had tried it warm, but I had assumed that it was fine to serve it chilled as the Go Go Quinoa Salad is great either warm or chilled.

I tried the chilled version of the salad the next day, and I have to agree with my friend that it is, in fact, best if served warm.

Have you tried this Andean & Pumpkin Mix? If so, What’s your favourite recipe?

Chocolate Power Balls Recipe Trial

This past Sunday I realized that I had all the ingredients I needed to try out a new recipe that I had flagged. The recipe is the second that I’ve attempted from the Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food recipe book that I first introduced in my peach & blueberry smoothie post.

I know what you’re thinking: Are you vegan now? … No. However:

  1. I’m interested in learning about vegan cuisine, and
  2. I had planned on using it to attempt recipes for my friend who blogs at Am I Vegan Now? before she decided to move to the opposite side of the country.

(Sharon, if you’re reading this: I totally would have surprised you with these had we been living in the same city. If you try these, think “Supreeze!” as you imagine me gifting them to you).

There were three things that drew me to this recipe:

  1. Most importantly: Chocolate
  2. Cardamom
  3. Chia seeds

I have been in love with the combination of chocolate and cardamom ever since I first had a bite of this Polish chocolate bar:

I had discovered these bars at a specialty food store several years back. Apparently they would only stock the bars around the holidays because they claimed that it wasn’t worth the cost of importing the bars (from Poland) regularly throughout the year. Considering this, whenever my guy would ask what I wanted for Christmas, I would respond saying that all I wanted was a box of these bars to keep me going all year long.

The same year that I went gluten-free, he stocked up on these chocolate bars and stuffed them in my stocking. Sadly, I discovered that these delicious bars had a ‘May Contain’ statement for wheat. At first, I decided to take my chances and tried a piece. And I can confirm that the ‘May Contain’ statement was valid … and I have not indulged in such deliciousness since that last bite 😦

As for the chia, I explained in my naturopath post, that my “Quack” had recommended I introduce chia seeds into my diet to increase my Omega Fatty Acids

… Just curious: hands-up if you sung “Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia” as you read the word chia?? I sing it every time I pull the package out of our pantry 😀

So, when I saw the combination of chocolate, cardamom and chia I had to try this recipe out! 🙂

Chocolate Power Balls

Makes about 16 Balls (my attempt yielded 20)

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cashews

1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax seeds

1 tablespoon pure vanilla

1/2 cup Enjoy Life Foods vegan chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (I opted for the 1/4)

1 tablespoon of water or orange juice

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  1. Place nuts and dates in a food processor and pulse until ground. Add the rest if the ingredients and whirl until the mixture begins to form a ball.
    (I don’t have a food processor, so I used my blender. I threw in all the ingredients as it directed but I started to get a perimeter of nicely chopped nuts and dates, but would jam up under the blade preventing the remainder from chopping. As a result, I had to take the blender jar off several times in order to shake and stir-up the contents. When I do this recipe again, I’d use smaller amounts in the blender and then transfer it to another bowl in order to chop the rest. I also think that the intent was for the chocolate chips to be grounded into more of a powder so that I would more easily disperse … but because there was so much volume to the recipe, very few of the chocolate chips would hit the blade. At first I thought that this was a downfall of how I had executed the recipe, but after the fact I realized that I quite like having the full chocolate chips intact. I thought I would point this fact out for anyone who might want to try out this recipe).

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  2. Remove the mixture from the food processor and put in a large bowl. Spread some waxed paper on a cookie sheet and with clean hands, form small balls (about tablespoon-size) and place them on the cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour to harden. 

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We love these! The recipe recommended that you keep the balls in the refrigerator and consume within one week. Considering that the recipe yielded 20 balls that were made on Sunday afternoon, and it’s now only Tuesday evening and there’s only 3 left …. I don’t think that will be an issue 😉

Let me know what you think if you try out this recipe! 

I Tried This Blueberry Smoothie … So Did My iPhone

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Well, my iPhone technically didn’t try my smoothie. But for a while I thought that a blueberry fragment had somehow made its way onto the inside of my iPhone camera lens. Turns out, it was from me being duped by a Ninja Kitty, named Gizmo. But more on that later.

I had purchased this cookbook from Living Without about a year ago. It was an attempt to find a cool recipe to make for my newly vegan friend, Sharon, who blogs at Am I Vegan Now? …. but she, along with her boyfriend, moved to the opposite side of the country and as a result, I never did get to make her anything from it. I have a ton of things flagged to try, but hadn’t actually tried any of them.

This past weekend I was in the mood to try out a new smoothie recipe. I had picked up a few individual packs of Vega to try out. My “quack” had suggested to both my guy and I that we try Vega. My first attempt at trying Vega was back in 2008ish, and I had trouble getting the stuff down. But, more recently I had read that Sharon thoroughly enjoys Vega from many of her posts, and I was interested  to see if I would like it (considering that I had heard that their formula had changed). My “quack” had also suggested that I incorporate chia seeds into my diet, and I found this smoothie recipe in the Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food Cookbook that included chia seeds:

Peach and Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Serves 4

  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Vega Vanilla & Almond)
  • 2 cups milk substitute (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds (I had none so I substituted more chia)
  • 4 cups organic blueberries (I only had frozen non-organic at the time)
  • 1/2 cup organic peaches (again, I only had frozen non-organic)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ice (optional)
  • mint leaves for garnish

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Not knowing if I was going to like the recipe or not, I decided to only make one quarter of the recipe. It was a good thing I didn’t. I realized that I was more interested in peachiness of the recipe, but it was overshadowed by the intensity of the blueberries. If you are a lover of all things blueberry … then this is the smoothie for you! I think that I was more in love with the intense purple colour than the taste. I’ve always said that colour makes me smile, and the hue of this smoothie definitely made me 🙂

Blueberry Smoothie

I found the texture to be a slightly gritty due to the Vega, but it was much more better than when I had tried the Vega on it’s own back in 2008. I found that if I used a straw to drink it down, it was much more easier to drink because the texture would bypass the sides of my tongue.

I’d probably try this recipe again, but would probably swap the blueberry to peach proportions. It felt good to be drinking the smoothie. I knew that I was having something that was healthy for me. But I just couldn’t handle that much blueberry.

Have you tried Vega smoothies or anything from this cookbook? If so, let me know what you think! 🙂

Oh right …. you’re probably wondering what my iPhone thought of the smoothie 😉

Not long after I made this smoothie, I noticed a small purple speck on my iPhone screen. Only to later realize that it wasn’t on the screen, it was actually on the camera lens. No amount of trying to clean it would get it off. So I was convinced that the fragment must have somehow gotten in under the lens. My bro-in-law was convinced that it was a chip. But I pulled up the pictures of the smoothie making process on my phone and how there was no sign of the speck until after I had blended the blueberries. And I convinced him that it was in fact, blueberry on the lens.

Contrary to popular belief … while I was looking at photos on my laptop to see which ones I would upload for this post, I discovered that on a larger screen, I could see that “blueberry” speck in photos taken previously to turning on the blender. They were well blended into the background (much like a “Where’s Waldo?” graphic), but they were there.

So, of course I wanted to pinpoint the moment at which I acquired the-speck-formally-known-as-blueberry. And low and behold, I found the instant at which it first appeared … was after meeting a cat (a.k.a Ninja Kitty, Gizmo) that was up for adoption at PetSmart.

Available for Adoption at the St. John's PetSmart, http://stores.petsmart.com/Store/Details/2159

Available for Adoption at the St. John’s PetSmart, http://stores.petsmart.com/Store/Details/2159

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo, pops up when you least expect him ;)

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo, pops up when you least expect him 😉

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo. Plotting his attack.

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo. Plotting his attack.

And just above Gizmo’s ear is the not-so-blueberry speck. I remembered that I had dropped my phone when Gizmo startled me. Turns out that my bro-in-law’s chip hypothesis was correct after all. Don’t believe me that he’s a Ninja Kitty? Check out this video:

Honestly, if we were cat people and also not allergic, I would totally have brought Gizmo home. I know it seems like he just wants to take Jax out, but I’m sure it’s just an act of displaying dominance and in a short amount of time they’d adjust. I think he has a quirky personality, much like Jax and I could see them eventually being buds. We’ve always described Jax as being stealthy. Looks like Gizmo is his feline match. LOL.

I’m not sure if Gizmo is still up for adoption. But, If he is and you’re interested in adopting him – give the SPCA or PetSmart a call (or visit!)

Uh-Oh! (Gluten Free) Spaghettios!

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Remember Spaghettios?? They were a staple for me when I was a kid.

That is, until I developed an food allergy (or intolerance) to tomatoes. At the time I was suffering from severe gastro pain and would be up sick several nights throughout the week for hours on end until the pain went away. On a few occasions the pain was so bad that I thought I would pass out. It was a little scary for my parents because there’s a long line of bowel cancer in my family due to a condition that we have called F.A.P (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis) and it wasn’t anticipated that it would affect me until I was much older (I was about 10 at the time). But all of the tests came back clear for any signs of cancer but I was still having issues. I remember going back and forth to the hospital on numerous occasions, when finally a new doctor recommended that it could be a food allergy. Months later I had the allergy test and it concluded that I had an allergy to tomato and egg yolk (in addition to several non-food allergies).

In hindsight, it made perfect sense. On average I consumed 3 or 4 cans of Spaghettios a week. I stopped the Spaghettios and other tomato based foods and I got better. It was hard to give them up cold turkey. I went tomato free for many years and eventually I was able to wean my way back to tomato based foods.

But then I grew up …. and grew out of Spaghettios.

Now, I am severally gluten intolerant (if not Celiac … which I’m in the process of trying to determine). I’m usually pretty good with not pouting over the foods that I can no longer enjoy. But the other day I passed the canned section and a can of Spaghettios caught my eye. And it was discouraging that I was able to “grow out of” my tomato allergy … only to be affected by a severe gluten intolerance as an adult. For a minute, I just wished that I could have a can so that I could feel like a kid again. Sadly I dropped my head and carried on.

On my most recent trip to Toronto, I picked up a pack of GoGo Quinoa Anelli vegetable pasta, while at a natural food store, because it looked interesting and I wondered what it was like. It’s completely organic and consists of Organic white rice flour, organic quinoa flour, organic beets, organic spinach and organic tumeric. It’s wheat-free/gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. The pasta was in my pantry for over a month while I wondered what I would do with it. … Then it hit me! SPAGHETTIOS!! Yes, his was a most excellent idea!

So I woke this morning, excited because I was going to attempt gluten free Spaghettios!

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I decided to google “Spaghettios Recipe” and found several hits. One of which, seemed straight forward so I decided to try it out. Get the recipe here: http://www.examiner.com/article/make-your-own-homemade-spaghetti-o-recipe-frugal-recipes-for-picky-eaters

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) tomato soup
  • 1 soup can water
  • 1 soup can milk
  • 1 pound small pasta rings, alphabets, or stars
  • 6 ounces Velveeta cheese (processed cheese), cut into very small cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of sea salt, optional

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, minus 3 minutes. This will ensure that the pasta, once added to the tomato soup, does not become mushy. Drain pasta.
  2. In large pot, add tomato soup, milk, water, butter, cubed cheese, and salt. Bring to simmer over low heat until cheese is melted. Stir in cooked pasta. Bring back to a simmer over low heat, stirring often, until heated through and thickened.
  3. Yield: approximately 6 to 8 one-cup servings

I had used ingredients that I readily had available in the house such as: PC Brand Blue Menu Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper soup, almond milk, Havarti cheese, and the Anelli pasta. The can of soup that I had was 591mL so I had to scale the above recipe back somewhat. I also skipped the additional water.

The result was tasty but there was an obvious lack of sweetness to make it just like the Franco-American version that I grew up on as a kid. I decided to add a little bit of Ketchup to sweeten the taste. I think this is a trial and error basis, so I’d start out with a 1/4 cup of Ketchup and add more to suite your taste.

I also recommend waiting for the dish to cool a little before you dig in. The cheese will solidify slightly and the texture will seem that much more familiar if you just wait a few minutes for it to cool down. Trust me, your tongue will thank you! 😉

Spaghettios

The Anelli was fantastic and the sauce worked out well. It really did look and taste like Spaghettios and I really did feel like a kid again while eating it…. minus the severe gastro distress! 🙂

Let me know if you try out something similar!

Cheers!

Krista.

Cookbook Recipe Trial: Pumpkin Pancakes

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As I mentioned in my earlier post which profiled the FREE FOR ALL COOKING: 150 EASY GLUTEN-FREE, ALLERGY-FRIENDLY RECIPES cookbook, it only took about a year and one “snowpocalypse” to attempt this recipe. I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of “oomph” that my pancake pictures bring to the table …. but I assure you that the taste made up for the lack of presentation effort on my part. What happened was: we were in the middle of the worst snow storm (actually blizzard) that I can remember since moving to St. John’s in 2001, and we were racing against time to prepare breakfast before our power cut out again. In hindsight – probably not the smartest move on my part, to profile a recipe for my blog under these circumstances ….. but I had psyched myself up for these pancakes when I went to bed, and they were the first thing that I thought of when I woke up that morning. I needed those pancakes to be in my belly!

To give you an idea of how intense the storm was, nearly 50cm fell and wind gusts of more than 100 km/h were experienced. We were one of the few lucky sections of the city to only loose our power for about 30 minutes. The power went out early Friday morning and for some, it was late Saturday afternoon before power was reinstated. The airport had also shut down until midnight Saturday night due to the storm (which was further impacted by an ongoing strike by maintenance workers). Like I said, it was one of the most intense snow storms that the city had seen in years.

Before: Mid Afternoon, Thursday January 10th 2013. After: Mid Morning Friday January 11th 2013.

Before: Mid Afternoon, Thursday January 10th 2013. After: Mid Morning Friday January 11th 2013.

Ever since I had my first pumpkin cinnamon roll from Gluten Free Treasures at my local Farmer’s Market, I realized that I was IN LOVE with everything pumpkin! So when I stumbled across the Pumpkin Pancake recipe in  this cookbook, I knew that it would be the first recipe that I would attempt.

Pumpkin Pancakes

As I mentioned in my post that profiled the cookbook, the recipes are written for use with Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Blend. Considering that I didn’t have all of the ingredients in my pantry to mix a batch of her flour blend, I turned to another fine lady named “Pamela” and opened the package of her baking and pancake mix that my friend, Felicia, had surprised me with a while back. Felicia raved about the mix but … once again … I hadn’t found the time to test it out. I thought that I would substitute the Pamela’s flour blend for that of Jules’ blend and see how it turned out.

I won’t reproduce the recipe here, but the recipe did consist of:

  • gluten-free flour
  • baking powder
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • cinnamon
  • egg (or egg substitute)
  • cooking oil
  • brown sugar
  • pureed pumpkin
  • milk
  • optional: raisins, cranberries or chocolate chips (I opted for plain pumpkin pancakes).

Although we eat food with dairy, we don’t normally purchase milk for use as a beverage, and as a result there was none in the fridge to use in the recipe. Luckily I had a carton of almond milk in the cupboard. We had eggs in the fridge so they were used in the recipe. At some point I might attempt an eggless version … but for the time being, I was running against the clock to finish the pancakes before the power cut out again (thankfully though, it remained on for the remainder of the day).

The pancakes were a little denser than a regular pancake because of the pumpkin … but then again …. all gluten-free pancakes are denser than your ‘regular’ pancake, so no difference there. Regardless of the density of the pancake, the result was absolutely delicious!

The recipe serves 4 and because my guy decided that he would only take one pancake to eat with his breakfast ….. it meant that I had enough for leftovers! There’s nothing better than warming up a pancake when you’re in the office on a Monday morning!! Just don’t forget the maple syrup! ….. unless you’re allergic …. then, go ahead and forget the maple syrup! 😉

As I was scanning through the recipe to write this post, I noticed that Jules suggests that you strategically place chocolate chips after flipping to create the illusion of a jack-o-latern … Jules: I like your style! And I like love Halloween. I will DEFINITELY be making jack-o-lantern pumpkin pancakes, next Halloween! 🙂

Jules has several recipes related to pumpkin included in the cookbook, which is great because now I have more ways to feed my love of pumpkin. Up next? Pumpkin Corn Muffins! 🙂

Gluten-Free Ginger”dead” Men + Fraggle Rock Shenanigans …

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If you’re either bit quirky, like me, chances are you also love and have a small collection of Fred products. When I stumbled upon this Fred item (while visiting Toronto for the Gluten-Free Expo and to see one of my BFFs, Jenny), I thought that it would be the perfect present for my friend, Ryan, who is born on Halloween and who throws one kick-ass Halloween party every year for his birthday…. and not only was I right, I now want one for myself 😉

Speaking of that Gluten-Free Expo … you may recall the recent blog post that I did about it. One of the delicious products that I sampled, purchased and brought back with me was 1-2-3 Gluten Free’s Chewy Chipless Scrumdelicious Cookie Mix. I’ve been holding off on using the mix for just the right time, and with Ryan’s birthday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to not only give him the awesome cookie cutter-stamper for his birthday, but to also use it to make delicious (gluten-free) cookies to bring to his party (so that I’d know that there would be at least one thing at the party that would be safe for me to eat)!

I thought it was only appropriate to use the mix to make the Gingerbread Cookies recipe that was listed on the inside of the box (and available on the 1-2-3 Gluten Free website) …. although there are 6 different recipes available on the inside of the box (which includes one egg-free version).

It doesn’t hurt if he’s already dead, right? …

I found that it was best to roll the dough thick, cut the men out first, transfer to your baking sheet and then stamp …. otherwise, you’d end up with the poor soul in the above photo. The recipe suggested that you use a rolling pin on top of the plastic wrap but I found that my rolling pin would move the wrap around and leave indentations so I just smoothed out the dough by running my hand on top of the plastic wrap.

I also failed to heed the suggestion of spacing the cookies at least 2″ apart … As a result, the men sandwiched together and cracked when they didn’t have anymore room to expand. They didn’t look as good as I had hoped, but at least this way i didn’t have to be as particular when filling in their bones with royal icing …. which was a big time saver considering that I still had to finish off my Halloween costume for Ryan’s party (which was taking place the following evening).

I sampled one cookie that evening and it was delicious! I couldn’t wait until the next evening to have another. I think the cookies went over well with the “regular people” at the party and I bet that they had no idea that they were gluten-free. Ryan texted me the day after the party and said that they were amazing even a day later 🙂

And now on to the costumes (i.e. the Fraggle Rock Shenanigans)!

Ryan was a good friend from university and although we still live nearby, we don’t see/hang-out as much as we use to. With that said, we do tend to make a huge effort to make up for this at Halloween (i.e. his birthday) and we all put a LOT of effort into our costumes. A few of us who are more craftily inclined tend to partner up to work on group costumes. One year my friend Susanne and I went as Mickey & Minnie Mouse, another year as The Blue Man Group (in company with my Guy), not to mention Papa Smurf & Smurfette. Last year Susanne’s boyfriend Jon joined us when she went as Darkwing Duck, I went as Darkwing’s girlfriend Morgana McCawber and he went as LaunchPad McQuack. This year Susanne decided that she was going to be Red from Fraggle Rock and she suggested that I should be Mokey because she felt that I fit the part 🙂

Susanne is beyond resourceful every year when she plans out her costume. This year she found a template for a Muppet puppet and had the template enlarged so that it would fit our heads. Once the template was sorted, it was just a matter of finding all of the right materials.

This was the inspiration photo that I used when gathering items for the costume. The pink material in the second photo above was material that I actually picked up while in Toronto for the Gluten-Free Expo. The top right photo is of the template for one half of the Muppet head and I also included a close-up of the 4″ foam … as I beg to differ on the “Easily cut” statement 😉

I’m fairly certain that my dog, Jax, was convinced that the material that I had picked up was a mat. On three separate occasions when I had my back turned, upon turning around I found him perched on the material. Perhaps I’ll use the leftovers to make him a dog bed 😛

I was surprised to find that the material was incredible heavy. So heavy … that when I cut the small hole in it for my head, I discovered that it had stretched and was hanging too far out on my shoulders. I had to sew in a drawstring in the back to pull it together to close it up somewhat. And once I cut off the “sleeves” it was like I had a ton weight lifted from my shoulders. It was so incredibly heavy. I found the perfect sweater at Sears (that was actually on sale) and it even had two pockets in the front in a similar fashion to Mokey’s sweater.

Next was the hard bit … the foam cutting! Actually, it wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was trying to slice the 4” foam down to 1” but I’ll get to that in just a sec. I pinned down the pattern to the foam and did the outline in permanent marker. Sus had said how difficult it was to trim down the foam using a bread knife so I thought to myself – “I have an electric knife that’s been in my cupboard for (most likely) about 10 years … perhaps I’ll try that to see how it works”. The ironic thing was that it was just a few weeks before that I had been looking through my cupboard and I thought, “I haven’t used that thing in years. I should donate it to good will.

I’m glad that I didn’t because the thing worked like a charm! And the funny thing was that it was the first time it was used, it was used to carve out 4” foam for a Halloween costume … I know this for certain because when I took it out of the box, it still had the plastic protector on the plug and a twist-tie still around the cord. Yep, hadn’t been used since it was purchased!

Ok. Next was the really hard part! Trimming four inches down to one. I decided that because the pattern was for half of the head, and I’d need to carve out a second shape for the other side, that I’d use the top and bottom of the piece that I cut out so that I would minimize the amount of foam needed and would have a smooth edge for each half of the head. I marked out the perimeter and connected the dots to make a solid line and then started cutting with the knife. It was surprisingly easier than expected, but I started to notice that little particles of foam were flying everywhere. Having a HUGE eye phobia (called Ommetaphobia – these 3 clips from Friends pretty much sum me up: 1 2 3), and being terrified of getting the foam particles in my eyes, I decided to put on my safety glasses …. Only to realize that they were at the office. Remembering that my Guy sometimes goes to the dockyards when they have chartered vessels come in, the following conversation occurred:

Me: “Rob, do you have any Safety Glasses here??”

Rob: “(short pause) … I have onion goggles ….”

Me: “(short pause) … That’ll do”

And with that, I put them on, and got cracking ….. errr, I mean slicing.

The next part was time consuming but it really helped define the shape – sewing the foam to form the head. Sus had used a glue gun to glue hers together but she said that you had to hold it for a long time to get the glue to bond well. I have been used to sewing most of my costumes in the past so I decided to sew my head together. I held it all in place with A LOT of safety pins. Then I sewed … and sewed and sewed … until finally it looked like the head that you see in the photo. I then cut out some pink fleece material that I had picked up from Fabricville and also sewed that to the head. I couldn’t wait to get the eyes on it because at this point it looked like I was making a pink Barney costume :S

I was really pleased with how the eyes turned out – they really made the costume come to life.

I had found 3 different shades of wool to use for the hair and it was a different type of yarn that is really stringy so it really gave it the look I was looking for. I randomly made multiple stands of the different colours and tied them in a knot at the middle to make a section, which I glued to the head with a glue gun. It didn’t take long to fill out the hair.

The next task was to cover the inside of the mouth with red. I made a flap with red felt on the bottom lip and attached a red sheer material to the top so that it was see-through for me, but difficult for people to see my face inside the head. I then used Velcro to secure the felt to the sheer material and this was used as an opening for when I wanted to eat or if I got too warm. …. Which I did. When the head was off, you could put your hand in the head and just feel the heat come off of it. But it was worth it 🙂

Susanne’s boyfriend, Jon, decided to join in on our costumes again this year and he went with us as Marjory the Trash Heap. Everyone got a kick out of us and the highlight of the night was when Ryan downloaded the Fraggle Rock Theme Song and the 3 of us danced our hearts out to it. I have no idea how we will top these costumes off next year! 🙂

Oh, and the easy-access hatch that I made came in handy …. especially for eating the gluten-free Gingerdead Men (I bet you didn’t notice Mokey stuffing her face in the right-hand photo above)!

Halloween truly is one of my most favourite times of the year! Happy Birthday Ryan!! 🙂

Cheers!

Krista.

Recipe Modification Experimentation: Dairy-Free, Vegan Pumpkin Smoothie

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You win some …. you loose some ….

(I haven’t quite decided yet where exactly this recipe modification attempt falls in between these two options)

Ever since I seen this image shared by Kathy Smart of “Live the Smart Way” on her Facebook Page, I’ve been dying to try a pumpkin smoothie!

I knew that I just happened to have a can of pumpkin in my pantry that didn’t get used on Thanksgiving Weekend a few weeks back, so I finally decided to attempt a similar version of this smoothie with the ingredients that I already had available in my kitchen.

Raw banana upsets my stomach so I decided to try some frozen mango that I had in the freezer. I also only had regular almond milk instead of the vanilla version so I attempted to duplicate the same thing by adding vanilla extract. I happened to have some Clubhouse Pumpkin Pie Spice in my cupboard so I figured I could just use that instead of the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. In addition to this, I’m convinced that dairy doesn’t agree with my guy, so I just happened to have a carton of Healthy Top dairy free whipping cream (almond & cashew based) in the fridge so I decided that now was the time to test it out.

Let’s focus on the “awesome” lessons learned from the recipe mod attempt:

  • Healthy Top = Awesome Top. I was a little weary when I cut open the carton and the contents didn’t pour out. It had solidified on the fridge and I had to scoop the contents out with a spoon. As I was turning to place the spoon in the dishwasher, I licked the spoon and discovered that the taste was fantastic, despite it not resembling anything like regular whipping cream. I flipped the switch on the mixer and the product quickly softened up and looked as real whipping cream should.

Now for the real lessons learned:

  • Skip the Pumpkin Pie Spice and go for the real stuff. The Clubhouse mix contained the spices that the recipe called for, but also included Cloves & Sulphites. I’ve tried this mix in a failed attempt to make a homemade version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte and I think it’s time to give up on it.
  • Frozen Mangoes were not the best substitute for bananas in this case. I think bananas would have given a better texture/consistency. Because I didn’t enjoy the the Pumpkin Pie Spice mix, I added in more frozen mangoes as I didn’t think that the smoothie was sweet enough when really it was the spice that was just to overpowering (to be fair, it should be noted that I probably added too much of the spice mix to begin with)
  • 1 cup of grated pumpkin is not likely equivalent to 1 cup of grated pumpkin. In fact, I think this is where it all started to go down hill. The pumpkin was too overpowering from the start so I had to play a round with the other ingredients to try and balance it out.
  • There’s a reason they sell Vanilla Almond Milk. Don’t bother trying to replicate it. Postpone your recipe for a few days until you can get some.

Although I pointed out several things that were wrong with my recipe mod attempt, don’t get me wrong; it did taste ok…… It just wasn’t of the “leap out of your seat to go write a blog post about it” calliper. The main thing I took away from this process is that I can find a good replacement for regular whipping cream that tastes great! So all is not lost! Here’s to hoping that my next attempt at this modified smoothie is a success!! 🙂

Cheers!

Recipe: Vegan Gluten-Free Coffee Crisp Clusters

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In my last post I talked about how I found a Coffee Crisp Hot Chocolate mix when I was visiting friends in Halifax. I looked at the ingredients and it appeared to be gluten-free after consulting my pocket dictionary that I received from the Canadian Celiac Association. And just for good measure, I contacted Nestle and they assured me that if there was any possibility of it being contaminated with gluten, then gluten would have been listed as a “may contain” ingredient.

And it was just like I remembered Coffee Crisp bars tasting ….. absolute deliciousness!

My next thought? …… Must.Find.Gluten.Free.Coffee.Crisp.Bar.Recipe!

I expected to have to scroll through pages and pages of search engine results to find recipe links until I found the proper one, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I hit the jackpot with the first result! www.iheartwellness.com .

The recipe sounded super easy and the pictures of the clusters looked inviting. I then read the About section of the blog and my jaw dropped at how much I could relate to Kris and her life experiences! I’ll send you over to her blog to get the recipe but the gist of the recipe is as follows: dark chocolate, grapeseed oil, coffee, coconut flour and flax, mix in a bowl and toss it in the freezer. When you have things to do, people to see, and topics to blog about … you can’t go wrong with a recipe as simple as that! 🙂

For the most part, the ingredients were fairly straight forward. I knew that I’ve never seen Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal at any of the nearby supermarkets, and I had also planned on visiting my li’l cousin, Monica, in Clarenville that coming weekend. Knowing that she’s crafty like me and enjoys “baking”, I figured that this recipe would be a fun thing to do together…. but if I had to rely on ordering the Perky’s online, I wouldn’t be able to receive the package in time and would have to hold off for a few more weeks before being able to try these little morsels out.

Or would I??

Enter Exhibit A: Real Food Market. An online organic store offering delivery in the St. John’s area. Here’s how they work. I had remembered corresponding through email with the owner a while back and remembered them saying that they would be stocking gluten-free items. I wondered if they would carry Perky’s. …… and I was in luck. I checked my address to figure out my delivery zone, and my Perky’s (in addition to the other items that I purchased) would be delivered to my door on Thursday night, just in time for me to pack it in my bag before heading to Clarenville for the weekend 🙂

I forgot to bring a few things out to Clarenville with me: like a vegan dark chocolate bar, grapeseed oil and decaf coffee so I had to do a little improvisation. Despite this, the result was still fantastic!! And I can totally understand Kris’ obsession with Perky’s!!

The odd thing, I came to discover once we were finished making the recipe, was that Monica doesn’t even actually like chocolate!  I’m sure that the most confused look rolled across my face followed by the biggest “Grinch” of a grin ….. it was all mine. Those delicious little nuggets, were all mine 😉

Thanks to Kris at iheartwellness.com for posting her recipe and Real Food Market for stocking Perky’s! You are awesome!! 🙂 🙂