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?

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.

Become A Promiscuous Shopper

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There’s been several things that I’ve learned since having to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle due to my severe gluten-intolerance.

  1. You’re gonna have to do a lot more shopping for supplies
  2. You will likely have to become a “promiscuous shopper”.
  3. It’s best if you familiarize yourself with whats out there.

… well, if you live in larger centers, then you might not have to be so promiscuous when it comes to shopping to accommodate a food allergy or dietary restriction, but if you live here in the St. John’s and surrounding areas you can expect the need to shop around in order to find all of your groceries.

First, lets look at Supermarkets.

Not only does the variety in the Natural Food Section (or as I lovingly refer to it as, “The Freaky People Aisle”) vary between Supermarket chains … it also varies within each chain.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a creature of habit. So I’ve always stuck to Sobey’s stores … and in addition, I’ve also gravitated to the same location. I like familiarity and efficiency. The minute I have to go to a different store I feel like I’ve landed in “Shelbyville” and I suddenly can’t find the items that I’m looking for as easy as I would in my regular  store . I end up getting distracted, it takes me twice if not three times as long to find what I’m looking for, and if my guy is waiting for me in the car …. I can expect to receive “Focus!!” texts to ensure that I’m not dillydallying and stay on task.

That all changed when I discovered my food intolerance.

Over time I realized that Dominion has a great selection in their Freaky People Aisle. So I now break up my shopping between Sobeys and Dominion. I also realized that the selection varies from Sobeys store to Sobeys store (and similarly with Dominion). What would show up in the freezer section in one location, might show up on shelves in another. Dominion’s brand, President’s Choice has introduced it’s own gluten-free line and these products show in the regular bakery section. At my regular Sobey’s location, delicious Udi’s products show up in the bakery section whereas in other locations I have to go to the “Freaky People” freezer section.

I recommend:

    1. Scoping out the various supermarket chains and various locations to see what products you are interested in.
      When you are ready to restock your pantry, you know exactly where to head to successfully find your favourite products; and
    2. Making note of the days where the natural food shelves/produce/dairy /meat & poultry sections are restocked.
      I find that the poultry section seems to be better stocked on a certain day but there’s a slim chance that I’ll find my favourite variety of Greek yogurt in stock.

Nourish Gluten-Free Bakery

When I was first advised by my “Quack” (i.e. Naturopath) to go gluten-free, the first thing that she recommended was that I check out the newly opened 100% gluten-free bakery, Nourish in Paradise. I enjoy their selection of bagels, tea buns, flatbreads, brownies and various other goodies. I also enjoy Ashley, the owner & operator, who I’ve interacted with on many occasions since I first became a customer. I like that they use all natural ingredients and avoid preservatives. You can purchase from them directly, or you can order a limited number of their products online from Real Food Market which I’ll discuss next. You can also enjoy several of their products when dining out around town. One of the places not mentioned on their list is Post Espresso where you can enjoy several of their tea buns, lemon loaves, coffee cakes and brownies (on occasion) to go with their delicious espresso based drinks.

Real Food Market

I first learned of Real Food Market from my Chiropractor of all places, lol. He had mentioned that he had a patient who was in the process of starting up an online organic market for the St. John’s area and asked if I would like to pass along my info to that person. He couldn’t provide me her name at the time but I did give him permission to share my info and Melissa later contacted me once he mentioned me and the fact that I want to start a restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Melissa has been great to chat both in person and via email.

Real Food Market is an online organic grocery store that either delivers direct to your door, or allows pickup at their warehouse if you prefer. They have a dedicated Gluten-Free section as well as a dedicated Vegetarian/Vegan section. Within the DairyGluten-Free, and  Vegetarian/Vegan sections you’ll also find a Butter & Butter Substitute sub-section. Dairy milk substitutes are found in a sub-section in the Vegetarian/Vegan section. Check out the Vegetarian/Vegan section for all of the available sub-sections.

From my experience, the Gluten-Free section tends to be items that are marketed as gluten-free. I’ve found other products in the non-GF sections that were naturally gluten-free and confirmed to be so after digging further into the companies website/email. Check out the other sections and if there’s something that interests you, do some research to see if it is in fact, safe for you to eat.

Winners Homesense

I would never have thought to check Winners Homesense for Gluten-Free, organic or alternative foods. My neighbour’s sister worked at Winners Homesense in the Avalon Mall for a period of time and she mentioned to me that her sister had said that there were gluten-free items available there. Sure enough, I discovered that they also have a “freaky people aisle”. The only thing is that it’s never consistent. You’ll find that the different locations carry different products and the selection various nearly every single time that you go. If you are there and you see a product that you like, snatch it up! … you’ll never know when you’ll find it in stock again. I liken their selection to that of a “grab bag” or “surprise package”.

I apologize to those of you who have been unsuccessful in finding CocoMira’s products. When I see these in stock … I stock up. I buy whatever is left on the shelves.

As a side note, I have since discovered that you can find Coco Mira products at Chapters (if not in store, it’s available on their website). If I happen to be buying books online from Chapters, I usually top up my order with Coco Mira if I haven’t already reached the free shipping status 😉

Bulk Barn

I had avoided Bulk Barn like the plague after going gluten free … The thought of the bins and potential cross-contamination terrified me. That is, until one day my co-worker asked if I knew that Bulk Barn had a dedicated Gluten-Free Section. My reaction was immediately “Is this a joke??” but sure enough, he advised that they actually have labels to identify the gluten-free item bins and they are all confined to one area. That weekend I checked it out, and not only were there dedicated gluten-free bins of bulk GF flours etc., but they were also carrying other packaged GF goods as well, such as Go-Go Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies which are my new go-to cookie. They have a variety of food alternative products that you can find in their “health food” section.

Health Food Stores

There are several Health Food Stores around the city that you can check out. My favourite would have to be Whole Health … mainly because it’s close to my office and I enjoy dropping in occasionally on my lunch break to pick up some GF snacks for my stash at my desk … and to also chat with Megan, the owner, who I also enjoy. Lovely girl! Other Health Food stores include The Natutral Health Shop on Stavanger Drive, and Food for Thought on Duckworth Street.

Farmer’s Market

The St. John’s Farmer’s Market runs from June to mid December, and have several vendors which cater to various food allergies, one of which is Gluten Free Treasures because 1) the treats are delicious (especially the pumpkin cinnamon rolls!), and 2) Valeria is a sweetheart!

Other regular vendors who cater to dietary restrictions include: A La Tarte! and Le Doyen, to name a few. I DO NOT recommend getting a “Almost Gluten-Free” waffle from The Waffle Lady. She has a gluten-free waffle mix but uses it in the same waffles irons as the regular non-GF waffle mix. Anyone who have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance should not eat them. If you one of those who are eating gluten-free because it’s the new fad diet …. fill your boots. If you are gluten free because your health depends on it, stay away).

Costco

I don’t have a Costco membership myself, but from what my co-workers have told me they carry a lot of GF products, and I’ve seen that on the blog “Living Gluten Free in St. John’s, NL”, Janelle has many posts on gluten-free items that she’s picked up from Costco.

Various Online Websites

Well.ca is one site that a Facebook friend introduced me to. I enjoy that they have a dedicated Specialty Diet section which includes Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Vegan among several other sub-sections. They also provide free shipping on all Canadian orders over $25 (unless you live in a remote area).

The “Buddy System”

If you have friends travelling out of province or out of country, see if they would mind picking up a few items if they stumble across them in their travels. I  have a good friend who I’ve met through the CCA-NL Chapter and every time she travels to Ontario or to the States, she always manages me bring me back some form of gluten-free goody … and if I’m really good,  it might be several goodies … on one occasion she brought me back a basket full of goodies! I also get surprises from my non-GF friends and family as well. There is no shortage of cake mixes in my pantry! ha 🙂

Canadian Celiac Association Meetings

I’ve been a member of the CCA-NL since June of 2012… and I’ve yet to be to a meeting where I didn’t come home with free stuff. I’ve lost count the number of times that I’ve come home with free pancake-, cake-, pizza-, and bread-mixes. Who doesn’t love FREE??

So, what caused me to compile this useful list? My quest to find Certified GlutenFree Cornbread in the city. It was impossible to find any without a ‘May Contain’ statement. I could find Bob’s Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix, but not the coarser corn meal. I figured that when I was in Toronto recently that I’d be able to find it. The Whole Foods store near my friends house in Toronto were much like St. John’s in that the only versions that they carried had ‘May Contain’ statements. It should be noted that Bob’s Red Mill produces two versions of Corn Meal: a certified GF one and a NON-GF one. It took several attempts while in Toronto to find the GF version and I found it at the 3rd health food store that I visited. They had 2 packages of the Bob’s Red Mill certified GF Corn Meal and I stealthily “squirrelled” them up! 🙂

I hope that you find this list useful.

Let me know if you’ve found places around town or online that have helped you cope with your food allergies and dietary restrictions. I’d love to hear of them so I can amend this list.

Are you a promiscuous shopper??

50% Off: Allergic Solutions Mixes – This Weekend Only!

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Although I’ve only been a member of the CCA-NL since June of 2012, at every meeting that I’ve attended thus far, there’s been freebies to take home. At our meeting this past week, Allergic Solution had sent the Chapter samples of their various mixes, and there were enough packages for each member who attended to bring home multiple packs.

Allergen-Friendly Mixes, http://allergicsolution.com

Allergen-Friendly Mixes, http://allergicsolution.com

According to their website, they claim that having food allergies doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a delicious treat. They say that many people possess multiple allergies or sensitivities and that their mixes were created with this in mind. Allergic Solution mixes are free of: corn, dairy/casein, eggs, gluten/wheat, peanuts, tree-nuts and soy.

This morning we decided to make the Pancake & Waffle Mix. I topped my pancakes with  some vanilla greek yogurt, our Aunt M’s homemade raspberry jam, and a little drizzle of maple syrup. Because the toppings were so flavourful, it was hard to judge on the taste of the pancake itself,  but it seemed like a good pancake to me. They appeared to be slightly denser than non-GF pancakes but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They reminded me of a crepe consistency which I enjoyed because I’ve yet to have a crepe since going gluten-free. When it comes to pancakes, for me personally, it’s the toppings that make the pancake. So, if you share in my philosophy in pancakes, have one or more dietary restrictions, and are looking to try out a new pancake mix, you’ll likely find that you enjoy Allergic Solution’s Waffle & Pancake Mix as well.

Allergic Solution Pancakes, vanilla yogurt, raspberry jam, & maple syrup

Allergic Solution Pancakes, vanilla yogurt, raspberry jam, & maple syrup

Best of all, for this weekend only, Allergic Solution’s mixes are 50% off, or 2 for 1 (however you wish to look at it). You can find the mixes at various stores as listed here on their website, however, I think the deal applies only to their online store. They also sell their mixes in bulk, and also sell several gift baskets which include various pans, waffle iron, or additional ingredients (depending on the particular type of basket chosen) which I thought would make a nice gift for someone who is a multiple food allergy sufferer. Keep in mind though, if you are buying online that you also have to consider shipping costs as well.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this mix, considering that they are egg-free, but I have to say that I enjoyed the crepe-like texture of this mix! I also like that they vegan-friendly and diabetic-friendly. Due to the fact that there is no sugar added, are dairy-free and gluten-free, the mixes would be a great option for those with strict dietary restrictions as a means to control disruptive digestion issues (much like my aunt who has to be gluten-free, dairy-free and consume minimum amounts of sugar in order to keep her collagenous colitis symptoms under control).

They also have a Facebook Page if you want to stay in the loop on similar deals.

Have you tried this mix? If so, what did you think?

Updated: Go Go Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies: Converting Cookie Lovers, Everywhere!

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Ok, so I can’t guarantee that they are converting cookie lovers every where. However …

I’ve always thought of myself as a chewy cookie lover rather than a crunchy cookie lover …. that is, until I discovered Go Go Quinoa’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. I had seen these cookies a dozen times on the grocery shelf and thought “meh” as I passed on by in hopes that I might score some chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by Udi’s in my local grocery store (I find that they sell out fast at my regular store so when I do find them, it’s like winning the jackpot!). Every year for Christmas Aunt M makes us a FANTASTIC Christmas basket filled with various goodies, and since I’ve discovered my gluten intolerance, she now includes gluten free goodies for me. This year, one of the items that she included in the basket, as you can see in my They Love Me, They Really Love Me post, was a box of the Go Go Quinoa Chocolate Chip cookies. I’ve had an abundance of GF treats in my pantry for quite some time so I was holding on to these new (to me) cookies until my stash diminished somewhat. As I was travelling out of province for the weekend, I decided that it would be an excellent time to break out the new cookies.

When I opened the box, I was noticed that they were individually wrapped. I guess the reason is to avoid cross-contamination or to preserve freshness of the cookies once the box is opened. Some people would consider the additional packaging wasteful, however it came in handy while travelling to/in/from Toronto. Without quick access to a container or ziploc bag, I could quickly throw a couple of cookies into my purse before heading out to do some shopping, so that I could ensure that I would be “with cookie” in the event that I needed a GF snack to tie me over until our next meal.

Despite not being a lover of crunchy cookies, I did enjoy that the cookies were not overly sweet but enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Just one cookie would seem to do the trick. Normally when I need an after dinner sweet to satisfy my cravings, I would eat a piece of 85% dark chocolate. But lately I’ve been finding myself returning to the pantry throughout the night to eat more chocolate and thus fuel my sweet tooth cravings. After eating just one of these cookies, I didn’t feel the need to go back for another. I was quite satisfied with just the one. It could have something to do with the low amount of sugar and the high amount of protein.

Initially, I was under the impression that there was only 1 g of fat and 2 g of sugar, and 5 g of protein in 2 cookies according to the nutritional labelling on the box that I had picked up, however … when I pulled up the Go Go Quinoa website to pull a picture of their cookies, I noticed that they had a notice stating that there had been an error on the nutritional labelling.

I knew this nutritional info was too good to be true! Source: http://well.ca/products/gogo-quinoa-chocolate-chip-cookies_30766.html

The correct amounts are 9 g of fat, 8 g of sugar and 6 g of protein in 2 cookies according to the updated nutritional information on their website. When you compare this to the nutritional information of other gluten-containing chocolate chip cookies such as Chips Ahoy! (for example), the Go Go Quinoa cookies are slightly better in comparison with the sugar content, not a lot different in fat content, but fair much better when it comes to the protein content.

So, although they aren’t the “super-cookie” that I had originally pegged them out to be, they are still pretty fantastic. I love that I don’t feel like I need to eat the entire box like I do after having just one of the “other guys” due to sugar spikes and lows. They taste good, are a nice little healthier alternative and are very satisfying.

I now regret passing on them all of those times that I perused past them in the GF cookie aisle at the grocery store. Thanks Aunt M for adding this pack to our Chirstmas gift this year!!

Have you tried these cookies? If so, what did you think?

So here’s the update:

It came to my attention after Brian made the following comment:

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 8.30.14 PM

At first I thought “Aren’t all cookies technically evil, Brian?” I know that I need a lot of self-control when it comes to sweets and don’t exactly possess a lot of it. In the original post I had done a rough estimate in my head, so this time I wanted to confirm that I had done my head-math correctly, and also to visually explain to Brian why I thought these cookies were “pretty good”. I did a little spreadsheet comparison to see how these cookies compared to non-GF Chips Ahoy and several different brands of crunchy GF chocolate chip cookies. I started working on this during my lunch break at work. Tonight when I ate one of the cookies after supper I noticed on the side of the box that the nutrition label was now saying that there was only 2 g of protein in 2 cookies …. and I was positive that earlier today that the image that I included in my post (that I had pasted from their site) said 6 g of protein. So I pulled up their website and sure enough, the nutritional info had been revised once again. I decided to revisit my cookie analysis from earlier today…

The amended (x2) nutritional content info. Source: http://www.gogoquinoa.com/products/cookies/quinoa-cookies-chocolate-chips/

The amended (x2) nutritional content info.
Source: http://www.gogoquinoa.com/products/cookies/quinoa-cookies-chocolate-chips/

If it wasn’t for Brian’s questioning of their “goodness”, I likely would not have picked up on the fact that the nutritional info had once again been amended. Now I was even more curious as to how these cookies stacked up to the rest. I started out by creating a table of the nutritional data that I was interested in (originally I personally wasn’t really concerned with the sodium content, but seeing how Brian had brought it up I thought I’d consider this factor as well). Kinnikinnick labeled it’s serving as “1 cookie” so I googled, and according to this site, one cookie is about 8.1 g.

Collection of nutritional information for various crunchy chocolate chip cookies

Collection of nutritional information for various crunchy chocolate chip cookies

I then wanted to compare each GF cookie and the non-GF Chips Ahoy cookies to the Go-Go Quinoa version so I figured out the multiplication factor necessary to apply to each group of nutritional info. This is how it turned out:

Comparison of other cookies to Go-Go Quinoa

Comparison of other cookies to Go-Go Quinoa

It turns out that the Go-Go Quinoa cookies are the best in terms of sodium, sugar and protein content. In terms of fat content and calories, they appeared to be on par with the others.Originally I was under the impression that the amount of protein was 6 g, and for me personally this gave them brownie points and compensated for the fact that they are slightly higher in fat and calorie content compared to the others.

Although the nutritional information had several hiccups, they seem to be on par with the rest of the GF crunchy chocolate chip cookies (or at least the ones that I’ve tried, personally). As I mentioned above, with the Go-Go Quinoa cookies I seem to be quite satisfied with one, whereas the other brands I tend to keep going back to the package and the next thing you know I’ve emptied the first tier of cookies in the package. The serving size for the Go-Go Quinoa cookies is listed as 2 cookies. If I only eat one, I’m only taking in 85 calories, 4.5 g of fat, 32.5 mg of sodium , 4 g of sugar and get 1 g of protein. So considering all this, the Go-Go Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookie is not the super-cookie that I thought I had found, and they might not necessarily be converting cookie lovers everywhere … but I still personally maintain that they are a “pretty good” cookie.

Care to join the are they / aren’t they “good” debate?

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! 🙂

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 🙂

0738213950

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.