Death and Taxes - Lets talk about the latter

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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!

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Eating gluten free on WestJet flights

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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




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4 things we learned about eating gluten free in Mexico

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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!

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Dollarama continues to deliver gluten free snacks

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I am not going to lie, Dollarama is one of my favourite places to shop in general.  I get lost in all the knick knacks tat can be found.  Sometimes really poor quality, sometimes good quality.

The City Centre Dollarama in downtown Edmonton was closed for a year as the mall went through renovations and the Dollarama had to be relocated and rebuilt to make way for expanded underground parking.

I missed it.  And when it finally re-opened, I was there on day 1!


What people may not often know is that there is a good variety of gluten free snacks available at Dollarama.  Just check out these quick finds while doing a quick run through:

Junior mints labelled gluten free and nut free (top left corner)


Doritos labelled gluten free, on back of package:

Lay's Stax Original, certified gluten free by the Canadian Celiac Association:


Rice Vermicelli Bowls labelled gluten free (see bottom left label), beef and chicken.


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Gluten Free at Pannizza in West Edmonton Mall

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We were at West Edmonton Mall recently and while munching on some lunch I noticed on an advertisement and then on the back wall of Pannipizza that they had a gluten free pizza option.


That prompted me to ask some questions about what the options were.  So what I was told is that they have a gluten free crust available.  See below:


I asked about cross contamination, and obviously like all restaurants there is not guarantee.  So then I asked about procedures.  This is what they have in place to try and reduce risk:
  1. They have pans and trays for gluten free to go through the conveyor belt system
  2. All but on topping is gluten free
  3. They have a separate sauce and ladle for gluten free pizzas ready
  4. They do not have separate containers for each topping. 


There is a extra $2 charge for gluten free crusts.

I know the separate sauce and ladle is a big deal for a lot of people as the ladle is typically used to spread the sauce around on the crust.  So to have a separate sauce and ladle which comes in direct contact of crusts really does help.

We have not tried their pizza yet, but let us know if you have!



Pannizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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We went to Britts Fish and Chips for gluten free Fish & Chips

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It has been a while since we went to Britts.  Infact, we first wrote about Britts way back in 2011!  We binged going there for a while and then suddenly stopped for no real reason.

During this summer, we tried going to the new Grandin Fish & Chips when it opened downtown.  But it was busy and couldn't get in.  We heard they have great Fish & Chips as well.

Well for whatever reason we craved some fish and chips and didn't want to risk Gandin being too busy, so decided to revisit Britts.  We tried to recall the last time we went, we thought maybe sometime in late 2012, or early 2013.

Not much has changed.  Except that they really are promoting their gluten free batter.  They have a large sign outside on the streets, and other signs in store.

They can basically deep fry anything in a dedicated fryer except for some of the obvious gluten items.  The extra sides that they recommend that are gluten free are the mashed peas, coleslaw and curry sauce.

We ordered The Works that fed way more than our family of four.


There are two locations in Edmonton.  One Downtown in Oliver and one South in Argyle.  Both have dedicated fryers!


Brit's Fish and Chips Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Freakonomics just aired a podcast episode on Celiac and it is amazing!

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This was an very interesting listen and I encourage everyone to give it a listen.  Some of the topics they discuss in the 45 minute episode are:

  • The discovery of Celiac Disease (This surprised me!)
  • Why the sudden increased diagnosis of Celiac Disease in North America
  • Reasons why not to go gluten free if you don't have Celiac
  • The economic impact of Celiac Disease

You can find the podcast episode and full transcript at the link below:

http://freakonomics.com/podcast/demonization-gluten/

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Who loves Chachi's?

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Holly shared us a review for Chachi's gluten free sandwiches!

Hi! Just wondering if you've had a sandwich at Chiachi's yet (in West Edmonton Mall and South Edmonton Common). I just ate there and it was really good - they even changed gloves and utensils for me. The gluten free bread didn't fall apart and it was nice to have a place to eat at the mall again since the Press'd in West Edmonton Mall closed.


All the gluten free sandwiches are listed on their website, and there's a pretty good selection. I tried the Clubbin and I actually enjoyed it more than Press'd, the garlic mayo was delicious!

Check out their sandwich menu.  Gluten free sandwiches are marked with GF.


Chachi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Treats for this years Halloween 2017

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It is certainly hard to find gluten free treats to give out for Halloween.  You usually just read labels and look for no gluten ingredients, or no may contains.  But not many halloween treats are labelled gluten free.

I'm going to start a list here, and I encourage you to email me a photo at info@glutenfreeedmonton.com of any other Halloween treats you find labelled gluten free.

Enjoy Life - gluten free chocolate crunch - Also nut free!
Should be found at Safeway, Sobey's and Superstore


YumEarth - gluten free gummy candy - Also nut free!
Found at Winners

Sunkist Fruit Snacks - Also nut free
Found at most stores
Suggested by Sharleen!

Tootsie products - including tootsie roll
Found at most stores

Read Tootsie's FAQ which has a gluten free statement.  And then check out all the gluten free candies they have!

Rockets 
Found all over

Check out Rockets gluten free statement.

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Can you put gluten free pasta in an Instant Pot?

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The quick answer is heck ya!

Amanda couldn't believe it when she made this gluten free pasta dish in the Instant Pot.  While I was away on business, Amanda just wanted something easy to make that our kids will enjoy.  She took a risk and decided to google making pasta in the instant pot.  There are certainly varying opinions on cooking pasta in the Instant Pot, let alone gluten free pasta.  But for us, it worked.  We probably wouldn't make gluten free spaghetti in it, but this gluten free penne just works perfectly.

The dish took about 15 minutes to make.  The instant pot heats up so fast in saute mode that the meat browns so fast.  Once that is done, it just takes 4 minutes to cook after the Instant Pot gets up to pressure.  Check out the recipe below.


This recipe was adapted from the The Holy Mess.

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef or sausage
8 oz (half box) gluten free penne (we used the pasta from Costco)
1 jar spaghetti sauce (24 oz)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
¾ spaghetti sauce jar of water

Instructions
  1. Click the "saute" button on Instant Pot and cook ground beef until brown, about 5-8 minutes. It does have have to fully cook through.
  2. Turn machine off.
  3. If desired, drain fat. (The more fat your drain, of course the healthier. A little bit of fat keeps pasta from sticking together.)
  4. Add 1 jar spaghetti sauce.
  5. Add ¾ jar full of water.
  6. Add pasta. Do not mix, but gentle push pasta into liquid and move around a bit to prevent sticking.
  7. Turn Instant Pot to "Manual" and set for 4 minutes.  Be sure to close the valve.
  8. Use quick release.  Mix and serve.

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Poke is all the trend! Splash Poke has Gluten Free Options

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This is a guest blog post from Geneviev

Friends and I had a quick lunch at Splash Poke on 109 St & Jasper Ave. They label their sauces for gluten free on the menu board. They mix it fresh, one portion at a time in front of you. Rice & vermicelli noodles for base are gluten free. The raw fish is unseasoned until you pick your sauce. They have cooked chicken, but it's pre-marinated and I didn't ask about it as I went with salmon & tuna. They have fried toppings that aren't gluten free so I stuck to sesame seeds and veggie options.



Splash Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Good for a gluten free laugh on a chilly fall day

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Posted by Food Envy:




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Gluten Free Sheet Pancakes Adapted from Tasty Junior

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I totally got this idea from BuzzFeeds Tasty Junior, so nothing original here!  But I wanted to say I was able to successfully adapt it for gluten free.

Quite frankly, although I used the gluten free Kinnikinnick Pancake mix, you can probably follow their recipe and do a 1 for 1 substitute.

So for directions, if you are using the Kinnikinnick Pancake mix, just follow their directions.  You may need to make 3 to 4 batches to fill up the tray.  I added 1/2 tsp of baking soda to each batch to create some more fluff.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the batter across.  Then get creative with your toppings!

The picture below from top to bottom is:

  • Alternating strawberry slices and cream cheese scoops taken directly from the Tasty Junior recipe (link at top of page)
  • Alternating Banana and peanut butter (we used sun butter) and put one chocolate chip ontop of the peanut scoop.
  • Sprinkles!
  • Chocolate chips and cinnamon.


The website says bake for 15 minutes at 425, but that was really too much.  It dried out the pancake a little more than I liked.  So I would maybe do 400 for 10 minutes and just check from there.


Cut into squares and serve!


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The Melting Pot is very fond-ue of gluten free

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Amanda and I recently celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.  We have been wanting to try The Melting Pot Edmonton for a while but they are always booked!  But this time, I managed to snag a reservation two weeks out!


When booking my reservation, I made sure to note a gluten free meal, so when we arrived at our table, the server was already on the ball, and knew we were having a gluten free meal and went over the menu with us, which was basically open except a few things. So I won't really go over all that here, but I want to give a few tips.
  1. Like any restaurant, cross contamination is an issue.  Know that when you eat with a group, it is better that the whole group eats gluten free so the fondue pot is not being contaminated.  This includes sauces etc.
  2. Go over the menu with the server, so you know what is, and what is not gluten free.  They will be happy to help.
  3. Don't look so shocked when they bring you a plate of gluten free brownies and cake for dipping!  Scroll right to the bottom for lots of yum!


Above, we chose the spinach and artichoke appetizer.  The wait staff prepped the fondue in front of us with some veggie broth, cheese, artichoke hearts and spinach.  It was served with gluten free bread, veggies and apple for dipping.


Next course was salad.  Above is the wedge salad with ranch, bacon, Gorgonzola and slices of tomato.  Below is their house salad with a mustard dressing with egg and tomato.



For the main course we decided to order our own plates and share.  Above is the surf and turf and below is the traditional.  There were a couple items that were not gluten free, so they just swapped out to any protein of our choosing.  Yum yum yum yum.  I forgot to take a picture of the broth we cooked this in.  The waitress gave us the cooking times.


Below is all the sauces they gave us (minus two that were not gluten free).  I can't remember all of them, but I remember a few being a currie, a blue cheese, and a sweet and sour.


Now for the star!  Dessert!  OMG!  We ordered the original with chocolate and peanut butter.  They served it with to slices of gluten free cake and a piece of gluten free brownie!  yum yum yum yum!  It was also served with pineapple, banana, strawberry and marshmallow.  Personally, the marshmallow was my favourite to dip!



So basically, you should eat here!
  The Melting Pot Edmonton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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5 things you should know about gluten free labeling laws in Canada

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1. To be labelled or marketed as gluten free, products levels of gluten protein need to be below 20 ppm

"Health Canada considers that levels of gluten protein below 20 ppm generally do not represent health risks to consumers with celiac disease."

2. A product DOES NOT have to be made in a dedicated gluten free facility to meet the gluten free label requirements

"There are no regulatory requirements prescribing that dedicated facilities must be used in the production of gluten-free foods. Regulated parties are responsible for ensuring that sufficient processing controls are in place to consistently produce gluten-free foods that meet all regulatory requirements."

3. Health Canada allows oats to be labelled gluten free as long as they meet the standard requirements

"Health Canada has published a position indicating that the majority of people with celiac disease can tolerate uncontaminated oats, which are oats that have been specially produced to ensure they do not contain more than 20 ppm of gluten from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains."

4. No low gluten or reduced gluten claims are permitted.

"Low gluten" or "reduced gluten" claims are not acceptable in Canada.."

5. Gluten free beer claims are allowed with gluten free grains, but not with a non gf grain.

"Health Canada and the CFIA do not object to the use of a "gluten free" claim on a beer-like product derived from a non-gluten grain if it meets the requirements outlined for "gluten free" claims"

Read Health Canada's gluten-free claims section of their website.

Have any questions or concerns, reach out to your local Health Canada office responsible for labeling.  Click here for contacts.

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Gluten-free pizza at Vaticano Cucina

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This is totally a guest blog post from Kevin! Thanks for sharing!

I just wanted to make you aware of the gluten-free pizza at Vaticano Cucina. My girlfriend is recently gluten sensitive and we've had trouble finding a pizza place that has good gluten free crust. Vaticano's GF pizza crust is incredible, and as someone who doesn't have to eat GF, I really do enjoy their GF crust.

gluten-free carbonara
Thank you for sharing Kevin!

Message us on facebook or email us at info@glutenfreeedmonton.com if you want to hare a guest blog post.

Vaticano Cucina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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In a hurry gluten free scallop potato

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Scallop potato is a delicious dish.  Especially if you like creamy cheesiness!

Unfortunately it takes forever to bake a scallop potato.  We should know, we've practically starved our kids waiting for the potatoes to cook on several occasions.

We were in a pinch the other day, and wanted potato, but we had had enough roasted potato for the week and wanted something different, but we couldn't wait an hour.

Amanda went searching the web and found a recipe from Taste of Home to make a scallop potato in the microwave in in a bout 25 minutes.  Yes that sounds crazy, running the microwave for 25 minutes straight.  But don't worry, you run it for 8 minutes at a time, so your potatoes won't become radioactive killer potatoes.



Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten free flour (we use Kinnikinnick)
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups milk
1-1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (we used a mandolin on the thinnest setting)
1/4 cup chopped onion

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in gluten free flour, salt and pepper until smooth. 
  2. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. 
  3. Stir in cheese until melted. 
  4. In a 2-1/2-qt. microwave-safe dish coated with cooking spray, layer a third of the potatoes, onion and cheese sauce. 
  5. Repeat the layers twice. 
  6. Cover and microwave on high for 25-30 minutes, (8 minute intervals) until the potatoes are tender.  You may have to mix the sauce or potato around a bit.

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5 Things you probably didn't know about Gluten Free Edmonton

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1 .
Our first post was all the way back on January 6, 2010 and it was on How we prepared for the gluten free diet.  It was a really short post!  Did we even know what we were doing back then?  Heck, do we know what we are doing now?

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2.
I say "our and we" a lot because there is one Celiac, but two people running this blog. My name is Abisaac, and my wife is Amanda.  Amanda was diagnosed Celiac in 2009, a couple weeks before our wedding.  Read Amanda's Celiac Story.

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3.
This will be our 745 post!  That is a lot of information!

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4. 
We do what we do because people keep on asking us too.  And they keep on giving us information to share, because we can't do this on our own!  We need you to help us.
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5. 
Our all time most viewed post to date is people trying to find out if Manwich is gluten free!  So is it? Edmonton must love their sloppy joe's.



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Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffin

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This is the lazy mans post because I just can't bring myself to typing out the recipe and I can't find the link on Tip Hero because they have so many Banana Muffin recipes and I don't know which one Amanda used, except for the one she wrote down to adapt for gluten free!  So I took a picture of it!

These muffins turn our so fluffy and freeze and warm up really well!  We love'em and the kids love'em



So here is the recipe!  We use Kinnikinnick's gluten free flour.  We always find their gluten free flour works best for 1:1 substitutes.




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