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?

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!)

How to “Treat” your Pooch’s food intolerance …

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I’ve read somewhere that dogs often imitate their owners. I can completely agree with this. My dog, Jax, a Lakeland Terrier, has assumed a quirky personality not unlike myself. Another common trait? He seems to have some mild food intolerances/sensitivities that we are still trying to iron out. He was having some gastro issues and was regularly having ear infections in addition to gnawing on his front paws a lot …. things that may be an indication of a food intolerance (so Google researching has told me). I’ve definitely noticed a big improvement since we stopped giving him store bought treats and making natural treats from scratch. We also give him a hypoallergenic kibble, which originally was supposed to be a short term thing while we ironed out what his sensitivity was, but he seemed to be happy enough with it, and I enjoyed the fact that it contained no wheat, so we continued with this particular kibble.

When we first made the switch, we struggled with what to do in terms of rewarding him with a treat. Our vet suggested making treats out of the wet food version of the hypoallergenic kibble. We scoop out small spoonfuls of the wet food onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 deg° F for about an hour. We store them in the fridge and use them within a week of being baked. Jax absolutely loves them!

While Christmas shopping this past Fall, my guy discovered this:

Snoopy's Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook Kit

Knowing how much I enjoy accommodating dietary restrictions and trying to use organic ingredients where possible, he picked this up so that I could make organic, allergen-friendly treats for Jax. I enjoy that the recipes are wheat-, corn- and soy-free. The recipes seem to have a base of oat flour (I blended gluten-free oats to make it into a flour), brown rice flour, an egg and water, while the individual recipes dictate the additional ingredients.  The first few pages are explanatory and even give substitutions if your dog has an egg allergy.

Tonight, I had some leftover pumpkin from making some Pumpkin Corn Muffins, so I used the leftovers to make “The Great Pumpkin” treats for Jax. One of our friends who was visiting at the time said that the dog biscuits smelled amazing.

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I think Jax thought so too!

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Want to make your own organic allergen friendly dog treats? You can purchase online from Chapters: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Snoopys-Organic-Dog-Biscuit-Kit-Snoopy-Snoopy-Bubba-Rose-Biscuit-Company/9781604332896-item.html

Do you have a pet with food allergies/intolerances? If so, how do you deal with them?

Free For All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes

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I ordered this cookbook quite some time ago with the intention of trying out some new recipes. It only took about a year later and one “snowpocalypse” to attempt my first recipe from it. The result? Deliciousness! … But I’ve saved the details for a separate post 🙂

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I discovered this cookbook, along with several others that I have yet to try out, from the Living Without Website. A list of all their cookbooks that are available for sale are found here: http://www.livingwithout.com/products/ … The magazine is a US publication and there is usually a link for Canadian purchases, which can mean higher prices but most always means higher shipping costs. I’d recommend checking out Chapters.ca or Amazon.ca to see if you can find a better deal, as you can combine with other products and receive free shipping if you cart total is usually above $25 (or some other determined amount).

What I like about this cookbook is that it is broken into two parts:

Part I: Essentials for Gluten-Free Baking

Part II: The Recipes

The majority of Part I is dedicated to ingredients and substitutions. Jules starts out by giving an overview of the items that one might find in their pantry which are basic/naturally gluten-free. She then gives a list of safe, gluten-free ingredients (such as grains, pseudocereals, beans, etc.) and then follows up with a list of evil non-gluten-free grains and other ingredients to avoid.

One of the most useful parts of the book is the Handy Substitution Guide. The guide starts out talking about Flour and how Jules devised her Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Blend. It then discusses other premixed blends, as well as making your own gluten-free blend.

She then lists other gluten-free ingredients that you should keep on hand, such as baking powder, baking soda, yeast, sugar and sweeteners, gluten-free oats/cereals/chips,  as well as flax seeds. She gives an overview of each one, lists several brands that she has used, and also makes some references to use in recipes found throughout the book.

Egg substitutes are the next topic and one that I thought was presented very well. She briefly discusses store-bought egg replacers but goes into great detail about homemade egg replacers. She gives a recipe for 12 different egg replacer recipes and groups them according to what they are best suited for:

  • Quick-breads
  • Yeast breads
  • Batters
  • Pancakes
  • Cakes
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Savory Dishes
  • Replacing Egg Yolks
  • Frying foods or browning crusts

Dairy and soy substitutes are also presented. Substitutes for milk, buttermilk, Half-and-Half/heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, yogurt/sour cream, butter/shortening, cheese/cream cheese, ice-cream/whipped cream are explained with recipes for non-dairy evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk given.

Nut substitutes are explained and are broken out according to whether you are looking for the nutty texture, or the nutty taste.

Jules then discusses alcohols in baking. She notes that although distilled alcohols are gluten-free, you need to be weary of added flavourings. She also discusses use of gluten-free beers in her recipes, as well as flavour extracts.

My favourite part of the book is that there are food restriction icons for each recipe which include: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free or Vegetarian. Many of the recipes are possible this way because Jules highlights the option for substitution. For example, for many of the egg replacements she suggests which Egg Replacer recipe to use which will save you time when executing the recipe! 🙂

Part I is then capped off with some baking notes … which I thought came in handy. For example, I had no idea that kneading gluten-free doughs actually do more harm than good (…. Good tip, Jules! Thanks)

Once you’ve digested (figuratively, of course) all of this info, it’s time to jump into the next stage of actual digestion – the recipe execution!! Part II is broken out into:

  • Breakfast Foods
  • Appetizers & Side Dishes
  • Breads & Rolls
  • Soups
  • Main Events; and last but not least
  • Desserts (the largest section! Jules, you know the way to a girl’s heart!)

This cookbook looks fantastic and should give those with food allergies and food intolerances the ability to enjoy fantastic meals and treats without having to worry about their safety or digestion woes!!

As I try out recipes from this cookbook, I’ll update with links below!

If you are currently using this cookbook, please share what your favourite recipes are! 

Happy Baking/Cooking & Eating!!

Krista.