Chinese Food at Pearl River, in the tune of Gluten Free!

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Amanda and I recently met up with a small handful of people from the Celiac community here in Edmonton.  It is kind of like a gluten free dinner club.  We've gotten together for dinner several times at Louisianna Purchase, Britts Fish and Chips, and most recently at Pearl River Restaurant in the south Edmonton for gluten free Chinese food.  This visit was kind of the meeting of the bloggers, it was us from Gluten Free Edmonton, Monica from Tasty and Gluten Free, Sherri from High on Life and Gluten Free and Dani who works at Kinnikinnick plus everyones +1

Laughing it up and chowing down at Pearl River
Amanda and I have eaten there before with her family.  To be honest we have always liked the food, but Amanda has sometimes been weary because of the language barrier with the wait staff.  Although, there is a pretty good understanding of Celiac disease and the gluten free diet.

This past visit was by far the best.  It might have been because they know the whole table was going to eat gluten free.  Yes even myself and one of the other partners were going to eat gluten free.  It really does just make things less complicated.  The gentlemen that seems to be the owner, was sure to come by our table several times, before the waiter and during the meal, to talk with us, recommend some gluten free menu items and explain why they are gluten free.  He came by during the meals to make sure everything was tasting good and too our liking.

It didn't take long for the eight of us to decide to order family style because we all wanted to try as much as we could.  We were told that many items can be made gluten free, or are already gluten free except the obvious like spring rolls, wontons, battered lemon chicken etc.  But there were still plenty of options.  We ordered something like 8 dishes, that I will try to ring off the top of my head:

  • Paradise Shrimp, coated with potato flour, pan fried and served in a mayo and curry sauce.  Don't turn your nose up from it before your try it, because this was the best dish at the table.  We actually had a double order of it.
  • Beef and Brocolli and Beef and snow peas - Both great and fantastic
  • Beef in black bean sauce.  Also quite taste
  • Chicken in a birds nest.  The birds nest is made of shredded potato that is fried, so good!
  • Sizzling rice in tomato sauce.  This was clumps of deep fried rice that is served, and then a broth of tomato sauce poured over it to cause it to sizzle on the spot.  That was hit and miss depending on who you spoke too.
  • Pepper Shrimp. Can't remember the exact name of this one, but it was spicy and coated with potato flour and pan fried served with a small relish of onions and hot peppers.  Very tasty if you ask me!
  • Steamed rice
  • Oh ya, they brought out a bottle of VH soy sauce for the table too!
I can't remember if we had more than that or not.  Either way, it filled us all up!  There was even a bit left over, and the bill only came out to $125 for the eight of us to eat.

So just a warning on a couple of these menu items mentioned above.  The nest, and the sizzling rice might be deep fried.  No one really asked (which surprised me) about how it is fried, and no one got sick at the table, and no word of anyone getting sick thus far (a few days later).  So even if it was deep fried, might be dedicated fryers for that.

Needless to say, we were not disappointed at all with the meal.  Was nice to have traditional Chinese Food, and Amanda to be able to eat it.

Pearl River on Urbanspoon

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Adapting Recipes to be Gluten Free

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For some people, cooking and baking is second nature.  For others, it is a struggle.  Amanda and I have very different cooking styles.  I like to follow a recipe to the T, yes that's a capital T because I rarely deviate from the recipes.  Amanda, likes to follow a recipe, but takes her liberties substituting ingredients she doesn't like, putting less or more of an ingredient.  We are all over the map.  Now throw in the fact that some of the recipe books we use are not dedicated gluten free recipes, and need to be converted, and you got a party in our kitchen!

I'll say this, adapting baking recipes to be gluten free is much harder.  In fact, I'm not a baker, so I am really not going to touch on this because I'm most likely going to give you bad information or bad tips.  However, I do love to cook, and I do use general cook books and adapt recipes when needed.

One of my favourite cookbooks is America's Test Kitchen, which I have written about before.  There are plenty of recipes in that book that are not naturally gluten free, but are pretty easy to make gluten free.  Why is this important?  Because you don't necessarily need to go out and buy a gluten free cook book, because you may already have a nice collection of cook books.  It's just a matter of learning to adapt.

So what type of situations will you come across that need adapting?

Pasta Recipes
Don't think all your favourite pasta dishes are no longer.  There are plenty of great gluten free pasta's out there that make great substitutes.  One of our favourites is Tinkyada gluten free pasta.  They have all sorts of types of pasta shapes available.  We also like Rizopia's gluten free pasta.  The one thing to keep in mind is that rice and corn pasta's really soak up sauce, even after cooked.  So if you are making a really loose sauce, you may want to mix it as you serve, instead of mixing everything.

Breaded Dishes
Kinnikinnick's bread crumbs work perfectly on any breaded dish.  We often make chicken fingers for dinner, or breaded mushrooms as an appetizer.  Their bread crumbs get nice and toasty and hold up well as left overs too.  No real tip needed for cooking with the gluten free bread crumbs, because they pretty much work like bread crumbs.

Stir Fry's
A lot of Asian sauces use soy sauce as a base.  Soy sauce typically contain a wheat flour in them.  Couldn't tell you why, but they do.  Luckily, there are options out there for gluten free soy sauce.  VH's soy sauce is made without wheat.  Kikkoman also has a gluten free soy sauce that can sometimes be found at Safeway.

Salads
People love to put croutons in salad because it adds a nice crunch to your meals.  You don't have to live without croutons.  You can easily turn Glutino's corn bread cubes or Kinnikinnick's bread cubes into seasoned gluten free croutons.

When in doubt, try Googling a recipe and see what comes up.  If you are stumped and can't figure out how to make something gluten free, you probably aren't the first one.  Someone probably has a solution that they blogged about already.

Of course, always remember to read labels of ingredients you are using.  Often times a manufacturer will change up a recipe and may end up using a gluten ingredient like wheat flour as a substitute for corn starch.

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Choosing the right Celiac and Gluten Free Mobile App

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Everyone loves a good App, and I don't been appetizers, but everyone them too!  In 2011, The Toronto Sun reported that 41% of Canadians have smart phones.  That means a lot of people are getting their information on the fly and right away.  How can this help people manage Celiac Disease?  Well, people build apps for just about everything.  There are Apps for helping to manage weight loss, diabetes, even your work schedule, so why not Celiac Disease.

Well, believe it or not, there are plenty of Apps out there.  But how do you choose the right one?

Well first you decide what type of App are you looking for.  In my opinion there are at least two kinds of Apps that can help (and that I know exist).

  1. An App to help you decide where to a restaurant with gluten free options
  2. An App to help you know if a product is gluten free or not
  3. You may want both!

I would first suggest searching gluten free, or Celiac in the App store and see what comes up.  Reading the reviews of the Apps always helps because people will make comments if the App is helpful or not.  You don't want to download an App, or even potentially purchase an App that ends up to not be helpful.  This is why, in return it is actually important to rate and review Apps.

In the Android Market, I downloaded an App called GF Near Me that is supposed to help find restaurants with gluten free options in Edmonton.  Another App called GF Scanner that is supposed to link to a publicly updated database to help determine if something is gluten free or not. I download one other called TGF Map (The Gluten Free Traveler), which is similar to GF Near Me.  I know the TGF App has Edmonton because they have used Gluten Free Edmonton to map out some of the restaurants.  I have not really used any of these apps thoroughly though.

You can also use generic Apps like the Urbanspoon App.  Under the list restaurants by feature, you can filter by gluten free friendly.  The only thing about this one is that because this is not a dedicated gluten free App, it doesn't list what menu items are Celiac friendly.  However, Gluten Free Edmonton has posted blog reviews on Urbanspoon so that would help for the ones we have reviewed.


Let us know about what Apps you use!

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Gluten Free Pasta Dinners in Edmonton and Around Alberta

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The Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter and Maplegrove Foods is hosting gluten free pasta nights across Alberta in Hinton, Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge in April.  This evening is going to be great packed with prizes, samples and more!  And it's pretty cheap to attend at $10 for members or $25 for a family.  Non-members is only $15 a person and $35 a family.

To register for the dinner, call the Edmonton chapter office 780-485-2949 or email ccaedm@telus.net.

Read more about the gluten free menu on the flyer below.

Gluten Free Pasta Dinner Flyer

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Gluten Free Teriyaki Burger with Rice and Mushrooms

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This recipe was a total experiment that worked out for me.  I know that teriyaki goes well with beef, and I've seen teriyaki meatballs before, heck I've made them before.  So I tried something different with a standard hamburger and pan fried it with some Gluten Free Kikkoman Soy Sauce and a Red Rooster Sweet Chili Sauce.

Recipe is per serving

Ingredients
  • 1 burger patty (I used the Kirkland beef patties that have no filler)
  • 3-4 tbsp Gluten free soy sauce (I used the special Gluten Free Kikkoman Soy Sauce found at Safeway, but you can also use HP, San-J etc.)
  • 3-4 tbsp Red Rooster Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Handfull of chopped mushroom
  • 1 tbsp oil
Directions
  1. Warm up a fry pan and add burger patty.  No need to add oil because hamburger patties with no bread crumbs will produce enough oil on it's own.
  2. Add 2 table spoons of soy sauce to pan and fry in sauce on medium heat.  Flip burger half way and add another table spoon of soy sauce.
  3. In another fry pan, hear up oil and saute mushrooms until just glazed.  Add 1bsp of soy sauce toss, and plate mushrooms so they do not continue to cook.
  4. Add sweet chili sauce to burger for flavour and plate burger with mushroom.
Serve with rice and Miso sauce.

This might be a recipe with some acquired taste, but worth a try.  I loved it.

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Gluten Free Children's Summer Camp in Alberta

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I know 2012 has only started, but this summer the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton & Calgary Chapters will be sponsoring a Gluten Free Children's Summer Camp running from August 13 to August 18th, 2012.

Rod McDaniel's Celiac Kids camp is a 100% gluten free and will be at Camp Kindle near Water Valley Alberta.  For more information please contact email calgaryceliacprograms@telus.net.

Please see the flyer below.


Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Fruit Parfait with Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Graham Crumble

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This might be one of this recipes that some people may not like at all because of the base ingredient, but I grew up on it, and I love it this parfait.  I use sour cream as the base, and I can eat this for breakfast, or a dessert, or a night time snack.  It is so tasty.

Doesn't that look great?
This may serve two small portions, or one fair sized portion (that I would eat up by myself)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of strawberry
1/2 cup of blueberry (or half banana... or both EVEN!)
1 cup sour cream (I use light, and I sometimes add a bit more)
1-2 tsp of sugar
Kinnikinnick gluten free graham cracker crumbs

Directions:
This is pretty simple, cup up the fruit to the size of your liking, add sour cream, add sugar and mix.  Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top of texture and taste.

The sugar mixed with the sour cream is what really takes the cake with this recipe.  I don't know how to describe the taste, except that I am craving it now that I am even thinking about it.

I know Amanda turns her nose up at this dish, she won't even try it, but I love it, so I had to share it with you guys.  Let me know if any of you try this.

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Gluten Free Cooked Apple Snack, Just Like Mom Made it!

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This is a recipe that reminds me of my childhood when my mom would make me a sweet snack.  Eventually, at a young age, I would actually just make this myself I loved it so much.  Amanda recently rekindled my love for this quick and easy cooked apple snack that is naturally gluten free.  Takes just a few minutes to make and tastes great.

Mmm apple
Ingredients:
1 Apple
1 Table spoon of raisins
1 Table spoon of brown sugar
1 or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 cup of water

Directions:

  1. Use an apple core remover to core the apple down the middle.  
  2. Grab a cereal size bowl and place the apple in it
  3. Pour in the water and add the raisins in the cored out hole.  Fill the hole half way and sprinkle the rest around the apple.  Fill the rest of the hole with the brown sugar and sprinkle the cinnamon over top the apple.
  4. Place in microwave for 4 minutes on cook and you should have a deliciously sweet cooked apple.
I sometimes add a bit more water, because I love to drink it like a hot apple cider.


Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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It's Tax Season, time to gather all of your Celiac & Gluten Free Tax Receipts

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I write about Tax season every year, because there are always Canadians being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and people may not know about the expenses you can claim.

I know some may argue it is not worth the effort (apparently you were able to claim much more in the past), but really, do you want the government to just take your money?  Personally, we try to get as much back as we can from taxes, so that means claiming the incremental cost between buying a gluten free item vs. the non-gluten free item.

The Canada Revenue Agency lays out the gluten free products expense their website.  There is a table to show you how to do the calculation, what you can and can't claim, and what you need to submit the expense, such as a Doctors note.

Essential you take the difference in price between the gluten free item and the standard price (incremental cost) and multiply it by the number of purchases you made.

For example, gluten free bread may cost you $5, and whole wheat bread is $1.50.  The difference between the prices (the incremental cost) is $3.50.  If you bought 10 loafs over the year, you multiple the 3.50 by 10 which ends up to be $35.50.  That $35.50 would go towards your medical expense.

I am no accountant, and I can't even begin to explain how the government takes into account medical expenses, but it should help a little bit.

I created a spreadsheet to help us with the calculations.  It helped out a lot and made things a bit easier.  I recommend it too.  The example calculation on the Canada Revenue Agency website should help you quite a lot in setting up a spreadsheet.

So what's this mean to you?  If you haven't already, start keeping all your receipts when you purchase a gluten free product.  I like to highlight the product and note it on the receipt so I know what it was.  I usually don't record anything in the spreadsheet until the years end.

How do you know what the standard cost of an item is?  I wish I could tell you, but I can't, because I don't know.  I tried to find something on the Canada Revenue Agency website, but didn't find anything, so I just looked at prices at the grocery store and used those prices.

Sounds frustrating and confusing doesn't it?  Well, I wouldn't expect anything less from taxes.

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Fiber and the gluten free diet

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I know, I know, the title of this post seems somewhat contradictory doesn't it? Well, if you're anything like me (and I know you all are) you have at some point found or realized that when eating gluten free it can be just that much more challenging to get in your daily recommended fiber. Now, I won't bore you with the gory details about the importance of getting enough fiber in your diet, mostly because I am quite certain everyone already knows all about it.

In my experience many gluten free products contain little or no fiber in comparison to their non-gluten free counterparts. Some companies work tirelessly to add fiber wherever possible and we've written about some of those products here on the blog.

I recently was talking with a pregnant colleague at work who told me that in pregnancy getting enough fiber is of the utmost importance as well and often can be very challenging and uncomfortable. She has often remarked at my lunches and snacks saying that they are "so super healthy" without realizing that they were often chosen for their fiber content (and often the ease with which I can calculate my insulin needs). I like to bring/eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies and the occasional high fiber snack. Now, she understands that my choices are not simply intended to be "healthy" they are intended to up my daily fiber content, otherwise...well, there could be problems...in my tummy, enough said.

Here's a really tasty and super easy high fiber soup that my friend from work shared with me. It turns out it's naturally gluten free and loaded with fiber. She said she got it from the "What to expect when you're expecting" website/emails that she subscribes to. (Sorry no link provided)

Sunset Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced (if desired)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 cups red or green lentils, rinsed
2 cans (14.5 oz size, or about 4 cups) reduced sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large or 2 small (about 1 lb total) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

Instructions:

1) Warm oil in 10-quart dutch oven (super large pot) or heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, red pepper, and carrots. Cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and thyme. Cook 10 minutes, until vegetables soften, stirring often.

2) Add lentils, broth, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 35-40 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through, stirring often. Add water, if needed, to bring soup to desired consistency.

3) Remove half of the soup to food processor or blender (or immersion blender); puree until smooth. Stir puree back into pot over low heat, then serve.

**My notes:
I did not have fresh thyme leaves, so I used dried and it was just as good. In future I would recommend cutting the recipe in half because this makes a LOT of soup! As well, the most important step is the final one, if you puree the entire soup then you'll lose the chunky goodness of the vegetables in the soup.



Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix

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My friend RL recently bought a new place and after a few minor renovations and lots of cleaning she purchased a new oven. The one that she replaced looked decent, but it had all sorts of troubles - knobs that didn't work, gas that didn't always connect to all burners. Bottom line, she opted to buy herself a new gas stove and wow do I love it! I have actually told Abisaac that when our stove dies I want to replace it with one like hers.

Anyways, the point of this post was not to rave about my friends beautiful stove. It was more to rave about what she prepared and shared from her lovely stove. Now, you must know, my friend RL is not typically one who bakes, cooks or even really has historically had much interest in these activities. However, she has been changing her ways and for that I am super proud of her. She said that her new found interest in trying to make things was because of www.glutenfreeedmonton.com and her new stove.

She arrived the other day on our doorstep, excited to share her creation with us. She had made super tasty pancakes. As you may recall, RL is gluten free, dairy free, soy free and vegetarian. Well, from these pancakes you would never know there was anything different going on. They were still hot and super moist, not greasy and loaded with flavor. Had I not already eaten breakfast only an hour earlier, I would have devoured the entire plate of pancakes and worried about the carbohydrates (aka how much insulin to take to cover) later. But...since we'd already eaten breakfast, we each held ourselves back and only ate 2 small pancakes per person.  The remainder went in the freezer for another day (possibly tomorrow, shhhh).

RL used a mix called Truly Organic Baking- Bakers Basics- Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix. She brought the packaging with her (great blogger friend that she is) so that we could photograph it all together. The packaging prompted me to search my cupboards, as it looked vaguely familiar. I found that I too had a mix from this same company. Mine was for gluten free banana bread, which I will have to set out and make to share with you all soon.

RL explained that someone had bought this gluten free pancake & waffle mix for her so she wasn't certain where it came from, but I knew that my gluten free banana bread mix from Truly Organic Baking - Bakers Basics, was purchased at a HomeSense somewhere in Edmonton (I cheated, the label was still on the package). To my surprise, HomeSense often has a large variety of gluten free products on their shelves. My only recommendation with a place like HomeSense is to read the expiration dates. I only say this because their inventory does not move or get checked quite like the inventory in a grocery store. We all know that gluten free products tend to have less (or no) preservatives and therefore a shorter shelf life than non-gluten free. No one wants to accidentally buy expired gluten free products do they. 

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta

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