What's the silliest thing you've done to gluten free food?

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I know it is an odd thing to ask, but what is the silliest thing you've done to gluten free food?

On the weekends, I like to make some sort of breakfast meat like sausage, bacon or turkey bacon with waffles or eggs in the morning.  That morning it definitely felt like a bacon morning.  Nice, grease, and crispy.  Yum!

BUT

I ran out of bacon!


via GIPHY

So what did I do?

Well I certainly didn't dump the bacon grease.  I pulled out the much healthier gluten free turkey bacon we buy from Costco and tossed it right in that bacon fat!

I think a few people had a good laugh about that.

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Why aren't there more dedicated gluten free grocery stores?

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I got an email the other week from a local entrepreneur asking me about the gluten free community.  They own a retail shop that has a gluten free selection, but was wondering about the value of expanding that selection further, or even opening up a gluten free stand alone.

I think they were surprised with my answer as I think they may thought I would have just jumped out and said 'OPEN UP A DEDICATED GLUTEN FREE STORE'.  

But I didn't.  

I had a hard time telling someone to take their own money, and invest in a dedicated store here in Edmonton, when so many have failed in the past.  

Why did others fail?  

I'm not sure.  

I was only able to speculate about customers willingness to drive across the city vs. shopping at local grocery store.

I provided examples of stores that do a great job at stocking gluten free items, here in Edmonton that are specialty shops, but not necessarily gluten free:
  • Earth's General Store
  • Ben's Meats & Deli (The owner Dave and his family are almost all Celiac.  He does a good job at filling in the gaps and has freezer items and shelved items imported from Europe (he is Deutsche)
  • Planet Organic (locally founded in Edmonton, and now has grown to a number of locations across Alberta and a couple out of province)
  • Italian Centre Shop - My understanding is Theresa Spinelli, or someone in her family is Celiac and she carries specialty gf products.  Often imported from Italy
  • Never been but Blush Lane carries some gf product
  • Not really independent, but a specialty store none the less, Bulk Barn has a gluten free Aisle, and often has different products not normally carried by everyone.  They have both boxed mixes and some bulk items.  Lots of snacky stuff!
I also reminded them that there are three dedicated bakers with brick and mortar loctaions:
  1. Kinnikinnick Fresh - Their bakery is located in one of their factories, and also doubles as a small gluten free store that offers products not produced by them.  Located close to downtown  10940 120 St NW - Existence for many years!
  2. RioVida Gluten Free Bakery - Najah is the owner, and she is a wonderful lady.  She mainly sells her own baked goods, fresh or frozen. She also does catering.  She is located at 100 Ave and 178 street ish. - Many years been open
  3. Celebrate, Gluten Free - I'm not as familiar with the owners as they do not interact with me on social media.  They have been open for several years as well and to my understanding, sell their own goods.
What I ended up suggesting was to expand their selection with their ear to the ground about what type of products the community wants here in Edmonton!

All they really have to do is follow us and see what people are asking for.  Everyone went kind of crazy when I posted that Celiac and the Beast said that they got Schar Pastry Dough in the states.


We also saw these yummy pastry puffs in Toronto, but not here in Edmonton (we've seen the Katz brand at Sobey's before)


I won't give up who asked me about opening up a store, but I know they follow me, so I know they will see this, read this, and read your comments.  So if you don't agree with me.  Comment and share this post on Facebook.  Let them see that you will shop at a dedicated store, no matter where it is in the city.

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Eating Gluten Free at Rostizado for Modern Mexican Cuisine

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I first have to say that I can't believe it took us so long to eat at Rostizado because we love their other restaurant Tres Carneles.

While being seated, at the restaurant we were immediately welcomed by co-owner Chris Sills from behind the bar with a friendly smile.  It has been a while since we visited Tres's so glad he remembered us!

Their menu is clearly marked with GF options, which there is plenty of.  With so much to choose from we thought to go with what seemed to be their staple of ordering a platter.  We ordered the platter for two which was only $50, and you got to choose two proteins.  We chose the polo (Chicken) and the puerco (pork), because they are gluten free.  The beef has a soy sauce on it, so it is not gluten free.

Since we were on a date night, we decided to splurge with an extra side of their roasted cauliflower.  Which BTW, we truly didn't need because we weren't aware of how big the actual platter is!

When the platter came out we really didn't know where to start.  Everything looked delicious.  We ended up starting with the chicken, slow roasted and seasoned to perfection!  Then we tried the pork shoulder, a very inexpensive cut of meat elevated to such a delicious bite.  The potatoes we amazing, along with the cucumber salad in the middle. The platter also came with four salsa's and some corn tortilla's.



The roasted cauliflower was so delicious as well.  They have roasted garlic cloves mixed in as well which I loved.  But I know that is not for everyone.

Although we did not order dessert off the menu they do have a flan (like a custard), or a sweet tamales for dessert that sounded delicious.  I'm already a fan of flan!  It is not a dessert you regularly find available in Edmonton.  So it is something I will definitely be ordering next time.


Rostizado - By Tres Carnales Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Adapting recipes to be gluten free can be easy

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How often do you see a baking recipe and ask yourself.....

"I wish I could make that recipe?  but it's not gluten free"  :-(

It is time to be adventurous!  You are missing out!  We always try to not let a non-gluten free recipe get in the way.  There are usually ways around it.

Here are two examples.  This carrot and zucchini muffin recipe from Cup Cakes and Kale Chips called for all purpose wheat flour.  Amanda just made the with a 1 to 1 substitute with Kinnikinnick Foods all purpose gluten free flour.


Example number two, I made this frittata/quiche.  But didn't have a crust.  I simply made a potato crust by crushing tator tots on the bottom of the pan.  I checked the ingredients of the McCains tots and they did not contain gluten (but not specifically labelled gluten free), so I felt they were safe to use.


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The only tip you need to serve safe gluten free dips

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On a recent trip to Toronto we went to our favorite Mediterranean restaurants to have some delicious food.  When we ordered our apps,we found one of the greatest tips you need to serve safe gluten free dips.

At Me Va Me, they offer serving a large plate of crisp romaine lettuce leaves instead of pita and did not charge any extra because it was just lettuce.

So why is this the only tip you need?

  • No cross contamination if everyone is sharing
  • Most restaurants DO carry romaine, while not all carry a gluten free bread, let a lone a gluten free pita. 
  • The romaine lettuce leaves were perfect for scooping and eating
  • We didn't get filled up on carb loaded pita, and got to enjoy the delicous taste of the dips.
  • Finally, lets face it, the lettuce or pita is just a vessel for getting the dip to your mouth because spooning baba ghanouj directly into your mouth is apparently not appropriate (so I've been told) :-(



This is me scooping loads of dip into a big crisp piece of romaine lettuce.  It was delicious and worked so well!

So for any restaurant owner or chef reading this!  Offer some crisp romaine with your dips instead of pita for those that can't digest gluten!  For anyone eating a restaurant that wants some apps and something to dip with, ask for a plate of crisp romaine instead of bread.


Me Va Me Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gluten Free Spring Rolls and more at Lan's Asian Grill

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Lets start off by saying AMAZING.


Enough said right?  That is an order of gluten free spring rolls, which they are happy to substitute on an order of any of their marked gluten free menu items.


Check out their menu, lots of gluten free options, from Appetizers, to noodles, to their soups and stews.  All gluten free items are marked with GF.


On top of an order of gluten free spring rolls, Amanda ordered the yellow curry gluten free chicken.  It comes with a very tasty broth and a side of rice.  It had an amazing sweet tone, with a nice kick at the end.  Be sure you like some spice if you try this out.

The spring rolls came with some nice crisp lettuce leafs, and a fish sauce with sriracha and pickled carrots.  It went great with both the spring rolls and the lettuce.  I should know, because I stole some off of Amanda's plate.

Also note, that in general they seem great on allergies.  Our daughter has a nut allergy, and she was fine with no rashes by the end.  They made sure my noodle bowl was not garnished with nuts etc.  


  Lan's Asian Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gluten Free Brown Butter Pasta

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This is a really easy and tasty recipe to try out.  We were in a crunch to come up with dinner on a Saturday evening as other dinner plans fell through.  So Amanda tore through her Pinterest ideas that she saved and we adapted a really tasty pasta dinner using Great Value Gluten Free Penne and Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Panko Bread Crumbs.

Ingredients:

1 box of your favourite gluten free penne (we used Great Value from wal-mart)
1 cup of gluten free breadcrumbs (we use Kinnikinnick)
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 cup cooked protein (we used shrimp)
1 stick of butter

Directions:
  1. Brown or toast breadcrumbs in pan
  2. Cook pasta to direction of packaging
  3. Meanwhile, brown stick of butter but placing in hot pan, and reducing until golden brown.
  4. When pasta is read, toss with butter
  5. Then toss with grated cheese
  6. Then toss with gluten free breadcrumbs.
Serve and enjoy.  Add or remove amounts of breadcrumbs, cheese and brown butter to taste.



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Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole

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I just made a gluten free green bean casserole and loved it!  This dish was a staple in my house growing up.  We loved it using the French's crispy onion.  Unfortunately the onion is not gluten free, so I thought to try this on my own from scratch.

First thing is first, get your gluten free Aylmer cream of  mushroom soup!  Found at most grocery stores including Wal-mart and Safeway.  If you have seen other gluten free mushroom soups, let me know!


This is what makes the recipe easy.  Simply mix a can of mushroom soup (don't add water) with green beans and top with Kinnikinnick gluten free bread crumbs and bake in oven at 350 for 20 minutes!


OR!

Make your own onion topper!  I sliced some onion and pan fried them with some vegetable oil until soft.  Added 3 table spoons of the bread crumbs and mixed and browned for texture.


Top on grean beans and enjoy!


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Gluten Free Falafel using GoGo Quinoa Amaranth Flakes

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A while ago I bought GoGo Quinoa's Amaranth Flakes at Winners.  To be honest, I don't know what it is exactly, but I know it is gluten free and it looks like something you can use multiple ways.  Amaranth is a high source of fibre and iron.  Check out the wikipedia explanation!

The box has a recipe for falafel, and I love falafel.  So I was excited to try this recipe as we already have a great recipe for a baked falafel from Today;s Parent.  I thought to share this one to compare.


This is what amaranth flakes look like


Ingredients:

1/3 Cup amaranth flakes
540 ml canned chickpeas
1 cup parsley
1 cup cilantro (I omitted out of preference)
4 garlic cloves
1 medium minced onion
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp paprika
1/4 cayenne pepper (I omitted out of preference)
4-6 tbsp of gluten free flour (We always use Kinnikinnick)

Directions:

1. Mix ingredients (we used a food processor) 

2. Form balls
3. Cook with some oil in a non stick pan, while flattening them out a bit.

Enjoy with some tahini sauce! (just add 2 part tahini, 1 part water, half part lemon juice and garlic powder paprika to taste)


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Gluten Free Tip for Meeting Planners and Travelers on WestJet

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I don't know how long this option will last, but WestJet is certainly onto something.

WestJet carries a gluten free snack box for travelers!

And it is only 8 bucks!

And comes with lots of goodies!


So where is the tip in this for travelers?  Fly WestJet!

I was going to a meeting, and I bought one for off the plane to see what it looked like when you opened it.  My intent was to bring it home for Amanda.  However my colleague that is Celiac was delighted I walked into the meeting with a gluten free snack box, since the hotel really didn't supply much in the way of a gluten free snack, except for a seran wrap of cut up fruits and or veggies.  Look at how happy Jan was when I handed it to her!

And the tip for Meeting Planners and Caterers?

This is so easy to put together and have on hand.  Look how happy my colleague was when I gave her the snack box.  Do you know how happy you can make your customers with Celiac Disease if they walked into a catered meeting, and was handed a gluten free snack box like this?  They will be walking away so happy telling everyone to book your venue, catering company or planner!

For smaller shops,  lots of the items here have a long shelf life.  Lots of great gluten free snack size items can easily be found at Costco.  A snack size veggie chip, a snack size Made Good Bar, etc.

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Tips Caterers Serving Gluten Free Foods

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I took a week long course recently that was held in the conference rooms MacEwan University.  It was a wonder space in their new Allard Hall building.  Bright colours, open space, you can see the students walking around with their creative juices, singing their scales, practicing their instruments and reading their poetry.

But really, this is about the catering there.  Not about what they served, but how they served it.  I am not going to comment on the food, selection, because they only served snacks for this course.  We were on our own for meals.

But what caught my attention is what every caterer should do.  Not just for gluten free, but for all allergens, like MacEwan University did.

See below:


This is the simplest way to remove confusion about what is being served.

  1. Colour code alergens with a legend
  2. Have the obvious disclaimer about cross contamination
  3. Place cards in front of each item being served with properly allergy markers.
Simple, easy to follow, and easy to understand.

The other tip to go with this is:
  • Keep allergens as separate as possible
  • Wrap items with nut or with gluten separately when possible
  • Ensure enough serving utensils are available to avoid people using one to pick up several items from different trays
Tip for someone attending an event that is going to be catered:
  1. Call ahead and speak to the catering manager.
  2. Allow them proper time to prepare you a meal that is going to meet your needs
  3. Ask what they will serve, ask about any procedures they have to reduce cross contamination 
  4. At the event, speak with staff or even better speak to the catering manager and confirm your conversation

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Coop working with Cloud 9 for gluten cookie mix

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This was a pretty good find at a Coop store in Edmonton.


Coop's brand Gold now has a gluten free cookie mix available that is certified gluten free and kosher.  Reading over the package I noticed that Coop is actually working with a Canadian Bakery Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery based in British Columbia to produce this mix.

What a great idea to support local business in Canada.

We have never tried the Cloud 9 flour, but we have purchased their gluten free granola bar mix from Costco in the past and have really enjoyed it in the past.  Unfortunately we haven't seen it on shelves for a long time.

With that being said we were excited to try this.  Amanda made a batch of the cookies on the weekend and was very impressed.


When we posted about this on feedback some others let us know that they find the Cloud 9 gf flour mix gritty.  We didn't find these cookies to be gritty.  In fact we found that very soft and chewy.  Which is what made Amanda love them so much.

Hope everyone can enjoy these delicious Coop Gold gluten free cookies made by Cloud 9.

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What's with all the gluten free books?

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We recently started cleaning up our house a in preparation for some renovations.  This meant packing up some book shelves, when we came along this stack of books.


This brought back some memories from when Amanda received her Celiac Diagnosis in August of 2009 weeks before our wedding.

Hasselbecks G Free Diet, now a controversial book to an extent, was the first book Amanda purchased about being Celiac.  She read all about someone else's journey, and was really able to relate which helped with her coping.

The gluten free every day book was the first cook book we purchased.  Not knowing much about Celiac Disease and the gluten free diet, we just wanted some place to start.

The Celiac Disease for Dummies Book was our welcoming gift for becoming a member of the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter.

The gluten free grocery guide was a recommendation from a friend after doing lots of research for us.

And now?  These books really collect dust.  Not that we are pro's or anything, but Amanda has learned to live with Celiac.  We have learned to cook and adapt meals from any cook book.  Nearly nine years later and we as a family are doing great.

Curious about some of these books?  Check them out on Amazon by using any of the links below.

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What makes this night different from all other nights?

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Every year around this time I go through the aisles of Andy’s IGA searching for gluten free food items for Passover. This year I admit that I left it kind of late but thankfully was still pretty successful in my search for new gluten free items for Passover.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Jewish holiday of Passover also called Pesach:
“celebrates the freedom of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt. Thousands of years ago the early Jews, called Israelites, moved to Egypt, where they became slaves of the Egyptians. It is believed that Moses was chosen to go to the pharaoh, or king of Egypt, to demand that he free the Israelites from slavery. The pharaoh said no, so God sent down 10 plagues (or punishments) to force the king to change his mind. The word Passover comes from the 10th plague, in which the firstborn sons of the Egyptians were killed. The Israelites were spared from the plague because Moses had told them to mark their door posts so that the angel of death would pass over them. The son of Egypt’s pharaoh died from the plague. In his grief the pharaoh ordered Moses and the Jews to leave Egypt and they were rushed out so quickly that the bread they carried on their backs did not have time to rise. This is the reason we eat Matzah (unleavened bread).”
--Kids Britannica
For those of us who are also Celiac and must eat gluten free it might seem easy (no bread), but just like anything else in any religion there are always many “rules” to follow in practice. I won’t get into that part because that is likely beyond the interest of most people, but I will get right to the point of my Passover food finds for 2018.

In Edmonton there is understandably less variety than in a larger Jewish community like Toronto of course. We have family & friends living in Toronto and as such we are fortunate enough to get unique and different items that are just not always readily available in Edmonton.

If you are looking for gluten free foods that are kosher for Passover, I recommend that you check out Andy’s IGA in Edmonton (located at 9106-142 Street) which is known for carrying the largest Passover selection within the city of Edmonton. Here are pictures of some of the items that I found:

Gluten free cake mix

gluten free crackers

gluten free egg noodles

gluten free couscous

gluten free matzo balls!

Gluten free cookies

gluten free cake meal

gluten free macaroons

gluten free pretzel snacks
--Amanda

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Gluten Free Croutons Anyone?

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We made these delicious croutons on the weekend!  It was simple and not as expensive as you might think


Okay, so you think i'm lying right?  Not as expensive?  How can that be?  Gluten free bread is always expensive.  I won't argue with you there.  It is, and these croutons were not as cheap as regular croutons, but I certainly didn't pay full price.

Basically, you are drying out the bread, so you don't need the freshest stuff.  We went to Superstore to their bread rack and bought a package of 30% reduced gluten free hotdog buns that were about to expire off the shelf.  You can do this with any type of gluten free bread.

When I took it home, this is what I did:
  • Set the oven to 250 degrees
  • Spread some garlic butter made with margarine, garlic and Italian seasoning.  Because these were buns, I sliced the buns first.
  • Cubed the season bread.
  • Spread on a baking sheet
  • Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil
  • Put in oven for 10 minutes, then checked periodically until golden.
  • Turned off the oven, and let stand in oven for another 10 minutes.
Now we are all ready for some gluten free Cesar salad with the Renees gluten free Cesar dressing we love!

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You can score big at Planet Organic

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You can score big at Planet Organic.  I know that first off you are probably going to say "Planet Organic? But it is so expensive!".  I am certainly not going to dispute that.  But I want to make a couple things clear:
  1. As you can see from these photos, they do have sales, so you can actually get good deals
  2. They have a loyalty program so you can earn stuff!
  3. The more you shop there, and the more you buy, the more incentive they have to stock more gluten free products.
  4. They have an amazing variety of gluten free products in ONE STORE that you won't see at a Wal-Mart or Superstore.
  5. They are a local Edmonton business

Here is some of the stuff we saw at a recent visit to the recently renovated Jasper Ave. location (which by the way, has free underground parking!)

Udi's gluten free frozen single meals!  



These are amazing gluten free peanut butter and jelly snacks.  We bought them previously at a store in Toronto.  We have never seen these anywhere else in the city.

We love the gluten free Bakery on Main cereal, and have bought it at other store.  However, we have never seen their oatmeal before!

Amanda previously bought these individual instant oatmeals in the United States and have never seen them here in Edmonton until our visit to Planet Organic

Don't like Bob's Red Mill?  There is another option for instant gluten free oatmeal!  Although Gluten Freeda has sponsored some local events in the past, I have never seen these anywhere in Edmonton, until our visit to Planet Organic

These little byte size gluten free treats looked delicious.

Dufflet started as a trendy bakery in Toronto.  They now have obviously grown and got into gluten free cakes (certified).  We have never seen these outside of Toronto.


We tried these yummy gluten free fig newtons from Pamela's.  Awesome stuff.  Others have said they've seen them at other stores too.

Lots of gluten free pizza options!  Judy G's is usually just found in the east.

Some new Nature's Path gluten free waffles.  Careful, not all of their stuff is gluten free.

   Gluten free burrito's!


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