Here comes the Gluten

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As you already know we have a little one at home now, she started eating solids at around 5 months and now that she's over 7 months old we are introducing all sorts of new foods. I asked the pediatrician if I should be avoiding giving her gluten given my dietary issues and I was told that there's varied research out there suggesting both sides when it comes to allergies and introducing foods to babies/infants. He further told me that he felt that I should introduce everything, including gluten, right away and watch closely for reactions (just like any child trying new foods). His opinion was that we will monitor her weight and growth even more closely and see if there's any reason to do the blood test for Celiac after age 1. I cannot remember his reasoning for the age 1 distinction.

So we have been introducing all foods to her and following the 3-4 day rule. Basically this rule is that you introduce a new food and do not introduce another new food until 3-4 days have passed without any reactions to the food that was introduced. Thus far it has been working well for us/her.

Now, parenting is enough of a challenge and learning curve each and every day but then you add into it the fear of causing harm to your child and it leads to potential freaking out! I am very thankful that Abisaac is so logical and understanding about my concerns (both the rational and irrational ones alike). 

Prior to our daughter's birth our home was entirely gluten free. Then overtime I insisted that Abisaac eat gluten more than simply when we go out. I requested that he eat regular (not gluten free) cereal, take regular not gluten free granola bars to work in his lunch and eat regular not gluten free oatmeal. Occasionally he will also eat regular not gluten free bread, but he will always use the Toasta Bags and will never double dip his knife into any spread, especially when putting it on regular not gluten free bread. We have both worked towards not double dipping our knifes since my Celiac diagnosis. This was our way of managing gluten free safely in our home for a long time. Now with the addition of our little girl, we have to figure out how we want to manage and maintain safe gluten free cooking and eating areas while still introducing foods that contain gluten to our daughter. 

Thus far she has eaten a variety of the baby cereals that are on the market, including wheat and oat cereal. We haven't yet given her the mixed grain cereal (which contains everything that is not gluten free all in one cereal), though it is on the counter waiting to be tried. We have given her regular Cherrios as well. Thankfully no reactions have occurred so far. 

As a way to ensure safe gluten free cooking we have switched from hand washing our dishes to using our dishwasher, which is both more and less convenient sometimes. However, it does help us to ensure a stronger sanitization of our dishes.  Thus far, this has worked for us. 

I do have a bunch of concerns. I am concerned about how I will manage when she's a bit older and wants to "share" her food with me and I cannot safely eat it. I am concerned about how we will manage when she goes into day home care and they bake and she brings something home for us to eat and I cannot safely eat it. I know that as she gets older I will be able to explain to her why I cannot eat everything she can eat, but until that time I am uncertain how everything will pan out. 

Thankfully, I am not overly concerned about how we will manage dinners together and what we will cook, as she seems to be a good little eater and is willing to try everything we give her. As well, we tend to cook from scratch more than we ever did pre-celiac diagnosis which is helpful, less expensive and healthier since we can control everything that goes into our meals. It does take away from some of the convenience which I expect may be a concern when I do return to work and have less time to cook dinner, but thankfully we are pro-slow cooker in our house so I expect our slow cooker will get a work out fairly regularly.

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

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Gluten Free Edmonton and the @Yeggies

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No, Yeggies has nothing to do with little eggs from Edmonton, but it does have to do with Edmonton.  We've been nominated for a Yeggie award!
The Yeggies are an annual digital media award show created to recognize and celebrate outstanding social media content creators in the capital region. It’s an awards show to highlight some of the amazing talent we have here in Edmonton — from people who code websites themselves, to those who write, speak, draw, all on their own time. Yeggies recipients inspire, evoke, inform, educate and entertain us, and they do it because they have a passion for it. -- Yeggies.com 
The Yeggies has several categories, such as Best in Sports, Best in Political Science, Best Twitter Persona as well as Best in Food, which is the award we are up for.

I can tell you that Amanda and I are absolutely flattered that we have not only been nominated, but shortlisted as a finalist.  I don't know who nominated us, but we do thank you and appreciate your support.  Recognition like this reaffirms that what we are doing may actually make a difference to more people with Celiac Disease than we think.

I do often receive emails, simply thanking Amanda and I for the work we do and how it has made their lives easier managing their gluten free diet.  I am always flattered and thank them for their support.  Emails from the community really do motivate us to work harder and not disappoint.

However, we really have to thank all of you that continue to support our blog, email us, comment on our Gluten Free Edmonton Facebook page and even Tweet us @gfreeYEG some of the stuff you find.  So, THANK YOU!  Your help makes OUR lives easier keeping up the blog and finding new gluten free products to write about, great gluten free friendly restaurants to eat at and the best places to shop gluten free.

I would like to congratulate all the nominees especially those in the Best in Food category:
All the best to everyone.  What a great foodie community we have here in Edmonton!  Cheers to the #yegfood!

Click here to read more about the Yeggies.

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

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Gluten Free and the Cough and Cold Season

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For those of us out there who have experienced a cough & cold of any kind this winter, an icky sickly feeling that comes over you and feels like it's knocked you flat on your butt...here's a bit of information you might not be aware of.

Recently I was asked to look into gluten free cough drops and help a fellow Celiac out in searching for cough remedies that are both gluten free and diabetic friendly. As we all know there are loads of options out there and some are better than others, but in all honesty, my number one go to is Home made chicken soup (way better than store bought but not always available right when you need it) and hot lemon flavoured tea.

As as second runner up for me at least, I tend to grab for Fisherman's friend cough lozenges. I'll admit that I had become lazy and forgotten to check to make sure they were in fact gluten free until my fellow Celiac asked me to look into cough drops. Oops! 

Anyway, I did get in touch with the folks at Fisherman's Friend and this is what they shared with me...
Thanks for contacting us regarding our Fisherman’s Friend lozenges and their suitability for people who require a gluten free diet. 
In answer to your question, Lofthouse of Fleetwood Ltd., who manufacture Fisherman’s Friend have confirmed to us that all Fisherman’s Friend lozenges and all of their ingredients are 100% gluten free. 
The “dextrin” ingredient used in some varieties of Fisherman’s Friend is sourced from tapioca (gluten free) and the Original Extra Strong and Regular lozenges are dusted with corn starch (also gluten free). 
In addition to being gluten free, all Fisherman’s Friend lozenges are:
  • 100% vegetarian
  • contain no egg or milk/dairy products
  • Peanut and tree nut free
  • Both Kosher and Halal approved (certificates available on request).
As I know I should always remember to be more careful, I am thankful to hear that I was not accidentally ingesting gluten. Eek that wouldn't have been good.  I will be sure to check into other popular cough drops out there and share my findings with our lovely readers.

Hope you're all able to avoid the terrible colds that are going around lately. Stay warm!

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

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

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Everyone has one of the following problems. Either you buy bananas because they just look so darn tasty in the store, get them home, you eat a few and before you know it they've turned brown and you no longer want to even consider eating them. Or you're like me and hesitate buying the bananas in the first place for the first reason, yet you find yourself with a hankering for some uber tasty gluten free banana bread. Well if you're like the second person (moi) then you may find yourself searching for those over ripe bananas on purpose in hopes of preparing a decent gluten free banana bread. All the while wishing so much that you were not celiac and could simply eat any banana bread out there, particularly your moms best banana bread.

Unfortuantely there's no cure or medication based treatment for celiac disease except to follow and completely gluten free diet. Because of this, adjustments must be made to alter a "favorite" baked recipe to be gluten free. Today I did just that....I transformed my moms best banana bread recipe into a gluten free banana bread recipe! And I'd like to share with you all that it turned out fantastic!

The real title of the recipe is simply "banana bread" but I prefer to call it as seen below.

Mom's best banana bread (gluten free style)

Originally found in the Pleasures of your processor cookbook, written by Norene Gilletz

Ingredients:
  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (gluten free) flour *
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (to make sour milk take any kind of milk and add a squeeze of lemon juice to curdle it a bit)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips/crushed nuts etc (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 275 F. 
  2. Using your food processor, puree the bananas. Then add sugar, baking soda and salt and puree again. Add eggs and oil and puree again. Pour over flour and milk and puree once more. Fold in chocolate chips/nuts etc if desired.
  3. Line a regular loaf pan with either parchment paper or tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour entire mixture into loaf pan and bake at 275F for 2 1/2 hours.
  4. The reason you are baking this banana bread low & slow is to ensure a dark rich brown color and silky flavor. Trust me, it's worth the extra time and a low temperature.
Disclaimer:

* I used an Organic All Purpose Gluten Free Flour blend provided by Cuisine Soleil brand. The team at Cuisine Soleil sent us some samples to try in our regular gluten free baking. The Cuisine Soleil flour products can be purchased at Earth's General Store as well as Planet Organic in Edmonton.  


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

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Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew - Naturally gluten free

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If you are a regular reader of our blog you likely already know that I love love love gluten free cook books (especially when they're good ones). As well I have been known to enjoy a great slow cooker meal (again especially when it's a good one). Well today I am sharing some wonderful news....I found a gluten free slow cooker cookbook. It's combines two of my favorite things together in one book!  Add to that, that I got it on sale!! How much more could I ask for?

I was walking into my local Safeway to pick up a prescription and right there as I walk in the door I see the carrossel with all these lovely looking cooking books. Now if you're anything like me, you are often sucked into those carrossels....you know, "just looking" as I tell Abisaac. Low and behold this time the carrossel is filled with sale stickers, who wouldn't want to stop and a take a peek?

The book I chose is called "Gluten Free Slow Cooking - Over 250 Recipes of Wheat-free wonders for the Electric Slow Cooker" by Ellen Brown.

I had never seen such a book at a grocery store, only in the library or at the book store. I was in my element! As I said, how could I pass up this opportunity? Combining gluten free with the slow cooker AND on sale, c'mon!



The first recipe I tried was the Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew. It seemed easy enough, I had all the ingredients in the house already and I wanted to make something to bring for Friday night dinner with my family anyway.

Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cups dried garbanzo beans
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained (I didn't drain them as I wanted a soup vs. a stew and needed more liquid)
4 cups vegetable stock (that's 1 box of prepared stock)
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Rinse beans in a colander and place them in a mixing bowl covered with cold water. Allow beans to soak for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Or place beans into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 1 minute. Turn off heat, cover the pan, and soak beans for 1 hour. With either method, drain beans, discard soaking water, and begin cooking as soon as possible.

2) Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Scrape mixture into slow cooker.

3) Placed drained beans in the slow cooker. Add tomatoes and stock, and stir well. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on High for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until garbanzo beans are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper for the last hour of cooking.

Note:
This dish can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated tightly covered. Reheat it, covered, over low heat until hot, stirring occasionally.

Variations:
Substitute lima beans for the garbanzo beans, and substitute 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning for the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon.

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

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The Cravings Place Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

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I know I know you must think all I like to do is bake, which is partially true and partially untrue. I do love to bake. I am working on enjoying to cook just as much, but my true passion (if I had to choose of course) between cooking vs. baking is baking....all the way!
Given my lack of time to simply have two hands free for enough time to bake something from scratch always, I do lean on the pre-packaged mixes from time to time. I'll admit, they're never quite as good as home made but they meet a need and certainly do make it easier (and faster) to enjoy gluten free baked goods in the house. To me there's nothing quite like the smell of peanut butter cookie's wafting through out the house, heck, cookie's or baking of any kind makes me smile. My biggest problem is that once they're made and I've eaten a few...I'm done (usually) and then I have to gift them out to friends and family otherwise we will just gobble them right up. Gluten free baking is for sharing at least that's how I feel.
As we all know, there are many gluten free products out there that are not yet available in Canada and only in the United States. While this is an entire topic for another post, I will simply focus on sharing a newly found (to me) brand of gluten free baking product. My parents were in Seattle awhile back and they brought me a few gluten free mixes and products to try out.

This brand is called "The Cravings Place". This particular product is a gluten free, wheat free, egg free, nut free and dairy free peanut butter cookie mix. It says on it all purpose baking mix and from the information on the back it seems you could substitute it into almost any kind of baking similarly to gluten free flour blends. I used it for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, well, squares. I opted to fill the entire baking sheet, bake and then cut into squares. Look at all that perfect golden brown on top....mmm.
I must say that while this product was super easy to use and turned out pretty good, there's nothing quite like a 3 ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe...you know the one I'm talking about: peanut butter, sugar and an egg. I felt that this mix left the cookies with a very different texture, more crumbly. The flavor was still definitely there and of course I am a lover of peanut butter so how can you go wrong? But I like my cookies to have more of a chewy texture to them.
Has anyone else used any of the other "The Cravings Place" products? 


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

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Hold the Gluten! Cookies by George Introduce a Macaroon

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Cookies by George has ventured into the land of gluten free, starting with a gluten free macaroon.  What's the significance of that?  Well, its just that Cookies by George makes amazing cookies.

Amanda and I tried them and they lived up to a Cookies by George cookie.  Soft, chewy and oh so chocolaty!

Of course I contacted Cookies by George to learn about their cross contamination protocols and also offered some suggestions.

Here is what they Linda, the General Manage said:
Yes, there are  additional steps we take to reduce the risk of cross contamination.  Our cookies are made from scratch, in small batch recipes, using only the best ingredients.  We produce several varieties of cookies, all made with flour, with the exception of our new Gluten Free (G/F) Macaroon cookie.  In an effort to reduce the risk of cross contamination our Macaroon G/F cookie is produced on a separate day than other variations.  All surfaces are wiped down prior to production to eliminate or minimize any flour dust that may have settled over night.  Our stores then receive the cookie dough and they hand scoop the cookie dough and bake fresh cookies throughout the day.  The stores have been instructed to follow these guidelines:  All Macaroon G/F cookies must be: scooped using a clean/sanitized cookie scoop; baked on a new silicon baking sheet with every tray that is baked; clean tongs or new disposable gloves must be worn when handling the Macaroon G/F cookie.  Our stores are also instructed to inform all customers that we cannot 100% guarantee that our Macaroon G/F cookie has not come in contact with flour and, therefore, anyone with severe allergies to gluten should not purchase our cookies.
Let us know if you've tried their macaroon yet!

Cookies By George (Kingsway Garden Mall) on Urbanspoon

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

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Hunt's Harvest Gluten Free Baking

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Colleen from Hunt's Harvest emailed me before the new year about her gluten free selection.  Since September 2012 Hunt's Harvest have been been making/baking gluten free items for the farmers markets across Edmonton. Since October, Colleen herself began a gluten free diet due to health issues.

In an email Colleen explained "My baking selection is now about 90% gluten free. I can only sell in farmer's markets because I do not have a commercial kitchen.  All my recipes have to pass the "I can't tell it's Gluten Free" test from my husband, who is not."

Hunt's Harvest offers gluten free chocolate or yellow cake mixes, soup or casserole dry mixes, snowball cookies, shortbread cookies, peanut butter cookies, garlic/cheddar biscuits, cheddar/onion perogies, french bread, chocolate brownies with cream cheese icing, donut holes, maple pecan muffins, almond bars.

Other gluten free recipes in the works are a sour dough bread recipe and a bagel recipe.  Colleen often experiments with new recipes.

Have you tried Hunt's Harvest gluten free baked goods and mixes yet?  Let us know what you thought!

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

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Tiny Tip Tuesday: 3 places you would not think to shop at for gluten free products

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Gluten free aisle at Bulk Barn
More and more retailers are starting to carry gluten free products.  Gone are the days of having to shop at only specialty stores, as retailers are more aware of the gluten free diet and stocking the shelves.

I bet you would not have thought to shop at these places for gluten free foods:
Stocked shelves at Winners/ Home Sense

  1. Costco - Yes the wholesaler is carrying more and more gluten free products now, from soups, to meats, to crackers to meatballs!  Enjoy getting lost in the wholesaler wonderland
  2. Winners / Home Sense - Winners has a gourmet food section, which is always stocked with the most interesting mixes, and snacks.  You can pick up anything from boutique cake mixes and crackers, to glutino pretzels, and Pamela's mixes.  Not to mention pick up a nice pair of pants and shirt on the way out too!
  3. Bulk Barn - Each bulk barn has an aisle dedicated to gluten free products, from mixes, to crackers and chips like Cheecha Puffs and Beenitos.  Also, each bin has a list of ingredients so you can confirm if the item is gluten free.  Kinnikinnick also just confirmed that Bulk Barn will be carrying their products too!

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

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Silver Hills Bakery - Gluten Free Breads

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New product alert!  We were contacting a while back by Silver Hills Bakery and their gluten free breads.  They generously donated a few gluten free loafs to the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter.  As we volunteer for the Chapter, we are their resident "new product" committee.  I know, poor us, we get to taste test all sorts of products.

First off, Silver Hills is a Canadian gluten free bakery!  Love finding great local products.  They are out of Abbotsford, British Columbia where they also have an Outlet Store, and ship nation wide.  Their gluten free breads are also vegan, certified Organic and certified GF.  The two gluten free breads they carry are Gluten Free Chia Chia™ and Gluten Free Omega Flax™.

We tried the breads as sandwiches and as part of a breakfast.  We really thought it had a nice rye bread taste, which makes it great as a sandwich bread.  I also tried it as a gluten free french toast, which actually turned out well.  I think we'll try to make a Reuben sandwich next, because we haven't found the right gluten free bread for that yet, and I think this the Silver Hills ones will work out perfectly.

You can find Silvery Hills Bakery in Edmonton:
  • Earth's General Store
    9605 82 Ave.
    Edmonton, AB
    780-439-8725
  • Pangaea Martket
    10150 - 104 Street
    Edmonton, AB
    780-425-9890
  • Planet Organic Edmonton South
    7917 104 St.
    Edmonton, AB
    780-433-6807

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

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Guest post for Leva's Gluten Free Options

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Amanda and I can't make it out to all of the restaurants around Edmonton, so we love it when our readers help us out.  Ashley wrote us a guest blog post on Leva's in Edmonton's university area.

Ashley writes:

Leva is an original, contemporary café and bar located in the University area. They offer a variety of gf pizzas (made on a rice flour crust) for an additional $5. I personally enjoy their artichoke pizza with added grilled chicken. They also offer around 5 fresh salads each day (e.g., greek, bean and almond, roasted chicken and spinach, etc.) with most of them being gf. They also serve gf hummus and veggies and a daily soup, that is more often than not, gluten-free. As a bonus, if you also have lactose sensitivities but still like your lattes, all of their hot beverages can be made with soy or almond milk.

Leva Cappucino Bar on Urbanspoon

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

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