Gluten Free Simply Simon Meals

We always have friends and family looking out for us.  A family member found these Simple Simon gluten free meals at Co-op.  They make meals and pies, and some are made to be gluten free.

Simple Simon is a shop out of Calgary.  The owner of Simple Simon seems highly involved in the Calgary Community, being a co founder of the Calgary Farmers Market that opened up in 2004 in Currie Barracks.  The market has now moved to Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive.

Visit a Co-op at Lessard or Millwoods Towncentre and try out one of these meals marked gluten free.


What do you find Pinteresting? Million Dollar Gluten Free Spagahetti!

2018 is just around the corner and Amanda has finally discovered Pinterest.  I basically manage our blog and our social media, and yes, we do have our own Pinterest board, but since Amanda has chosen to stay far away from most of the social media stuff, this is pretty new to her.

She recently had a "where have you been all my life" moment with Pinterest trying to find meals that we can make or adapt, and yes I am somewhat exaggerating, but only somewhat.

The first recipe she tried this week was an awesome success.  Amanda adapted the Million Dollar Spaghetti recipe from Gonna Want Seconds that she found on Pinterest.

Our adaption is below with notes in purple:




INGREDIENTS

Catelli gluten free spaghetti - 16 Ounces (we had to use more than one package)
Yellow Onion, Chopped - 1 Cup (1 Medium)
Garlic, Minced - 4 Cloves
Sweet Italian Sausage, Casing Removed - 1 1/2 Pounds (We bought at the Safeway butcher)
Spaghetti Sauce-Divided - 2--24 Ounce Jars (We use Classico)
Ricotta Cheese - 8 Ounces
Cream Cheese - 8 Ounces (We bought a block of Philadelphia cream cheese- easier to measure)
Sour Cream - 1/4 Cup
Dried Italian Seasoning - 3 Teaspoons
Mozzarella, Shredded-Divided - 3 Cups
Salt
Pepper
Butter, Cut Into Slices-Divided - 1/2 Cup

DIRECTIONS - We adapted the order in which to make things for gluten free as gluten free pasta tends to absorb all of the sauce/liquid once it's made. We opted to make the pasta last, just before putting together the meal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add sausage to skillet, and brown, crumbling sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook until there is no longer any pink in sausage. Drain well. Add 1 jar of spaghetti sauce to skillet. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, 1 cup mozzarella, and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water, with 1 Tablespoon of salt, to a boil. Cook pasta according to package. Drain well, then return pasta to original pot, and add 1 jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and combine. Set aside. (In the original recipe, this is done first, but we felt the gluten free pasta would not hold up if we did it first)

While pasta is cooking, place half the slices of butter in the baking dish.

When spaghetti is ready, spread half the spaghetti into a 9 x 13 baking dish, then spread cheese mixture evenly over spaghetti. Top with the remaining butter slices. Spread remaining spaghetti over cheese mixture. Pour tomato meat sauce evenly over top layer of spaghetti. Top with remaining mozzarella and bake in preheated oven until casserole is heated through, about 35-45 minutes.

END RESULT:
It was delicious and a huge success in our house. This was our Christmas eve dinner and who knows, maybe it will become a tradition around here. It is very rich in flavor and it made a LOT (filled a 9 x 13 baking pan) so we froze about half of the meal to save for another time.


Death and Taxes - Lets talk about the latter

There is a popular saying in life that nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.  Lets talk about the latter.

I talk about taxes every year and I'm probably not going to be saying much new, but some may not know that if you have a Celiac Diagnosis, there is some medical expenses you can claim every year.

Revenue Canada has changed their website this year, so they no longer have a page dedicated to the Celiac Tax Expense on gluten free products, but it is still all laid out on their Details of the Medical Expense page.

It is probably one of the more sophisticated claims, so I'm not sure why they removed a dedicated page on it.  But if you scroll down on the page (Click here for the Details of the Medical Expense page), this is what you will see:

Gluten-free products – Persons with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) can claim the incremental costs associated with buying gluten-free products as a medical expense. The incremental cost is the difference in the cost of gluten-free products compared to the cost of similar products with gluten. It is calculated by subtracting the cost of a product with gluten from the cost of a gluten-free product. 
Generally, the food products are limited to those produced and marketed specifically for gluten-free diets, such as gluten-free bread. Other products can also be eligible if they are used by the person with celiac disease to make gluten-free products for their own use. These include, but is not limited to, rice flour and gluten-free spices.
If several people eat the product, only the costs related to the part of the product that is eaten by the person with celiac disease may be claimed as a medical expense. 
Do not send any supporting documents. Keep them in case we ask to see them later. You will need to keep all of the following:

  • A letter from a medical practitioner that certifies that the person has celiac disease and needs a gluten-free diet
  • Receipts for each gluten-free food product that is claimed
  • A summary of each food product that was bought during the 12-month period for which the expenses are being claimed (see example below)

Example of summaryFood product: Bread
Number of products bought (for the 12-month period): 52
Average cost of product with gluten: $3.49
Average cost of gluten-free product: $6.99
Incremental cost: $6.99 - $3.49 = $3.50
Amount to claim: $3.50 x 52 = $182.00
So what does all mean?  It means, if you keep all of your receipts for the upcoming year, you can get some money back.



A lot of people will argue that it is not worth it.  A lot of people also hesitate because of the third paragraph "If several people eat the product, only the costs related to the part of the product that is eaten by the person with celiac disease may be claimed as a medical expense.".  But I still say it is worth going forward because why not get back some money if you can.

I'm assuming if you are newly diagnosed, you don't have any receipts, but if you want to start, 2018 is just around the corner!

Eating gluten free on WestJet flights

WestJet's got game!

I can't say I fly many different airlines.  So I really don't have much to compare too except for what others have commented to me about.  But apparently, WestJet is a super hero when it comes to flying and needing an on board gluten free snack.

In the past couple years, I've flown Sunwing twice for vacation, and WestJet, maybe 5 to 6 times.

During my recent flights I looked at on on board menu, and not only saw a gluten free snack available, but a gluten free snack box available.  And for a decent price!  Check out the snack box option below!


Not only that, on a recent WestJet vacations flight I saw the Chopped Leaf bistro box that comes with gluten free crackers.  See below:


I think this great that these options are being offered.

Click here for WestJet's onboard menu.

I did look up Air Canada, and noticed they currently carry Made Good snacks.  Just not on the snack bar, they say peanut free, but it looks like it does contain nuts, just not peanuts.



Click here for info on Air Canada's on Board Menu




4 things we learned about eating gluten free in Mexico

We recently traveled to Mexico.  This was not our first trip to Mexico by any means. It was not even our first time travelling outside of Canada seeking gluten free eats.  But this trip seemed a bit different.  Eating at resorts in generally can be a daunting task.  Food at resorts is always hit and miss.  Then through in the curve ball of eating with a dietary restriction in a buffet situation with a potential language barrier.  Oy!

We left the Crown Paradise Club in Puerto Vallarta a little wiser.  Here are 4 things we learned about eating gluten free in Mexico that we needed to be reminded about.

1. Buffets can be messy, but there is always a chef to speak to

Buffets can be messy and scary for cross contamination.  We were reminded by the Crown Paradise Club Facebook page that there is always a chef to speak with to prepare you something off menu:

2. A la carte specialty restaurants can lead to more gluten free options than the buffet

Once we got a hang of the reservation system for the resorts specialty restaurants, we ate their for all of our dinners. It allowed for easy customization of the meals and a safer space to reduce chance of cross contamination since there was not a buffet.


3. Don't be afraid to ask, you are not being a trouble maker

Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself.  Not just for a gluten free meal, but for a tasty gluten free meal.  You don't know what they can do until you start to ask questions.  There were a couple of times at the specialty restaurants they offered up dishes with no sauce.  I expect better than that when you pay money to stay at a resort.  So we asked them to prepare a different sauces to go with the meal, which ended up to be a simple garlic butter sauce which pairs well with lots of foods.  There is one time they actually sought out a gluten free pasta to make a dish for Amanda as well.

4. Crowd sourcing works

Don't be afraid to ask your friends on social media for tips and advice.  We did!  And a lot of you responded.  Thank you so much for that!  We are always learning.  Check out some of the comments in the Facebook post below and add your own tips!