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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Gluten Free Egg Roll in a Bowl

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I love classic north american Chinese Food.  Ever since Amanda's diagnosis of Celiac Disease, we basically only eat traditional Chinese Food restaurants once or twice a year.  Mainly because restaurants don't use a gluten free soy sauce.  When we do eat Chinese Food, Pearl River on 99st in the south has been our go to restaurant that seems to do gluten free best for us.  Other than that, we usually eat Vietnamese or Thai because there is less soy sauce and more rice noodles.

With that being said we will make a lot of Asian dishes at home.  VH makes that easy for us because all of their sauces are gluten free.  So I use their teriyaki with salmon, or their honey garlic with short ribs, and sweet and sour with the gluten free spring rolls we buy at Ben's Meat & Deli or green onion cakes we buy at the Kinnikinnick Fresh store.

Egg rolls have been elusive.  I haven't eaten a traditional egg roll in years.  And still haven't, but this recipe although missing a shell, is amazing. But once I find a wrapper, maybe one day I can make an egg roll.

I apologize but I don't remember where this recipe came from.  It is not ours, we just adapted it, but it turned out way better than I expected.

A lot went into the recipe, but it was really easy to make.


A little commentary on the tamari sauce.  We spent the extra money to get the gluten free tamari, vs. using the inexpensive VH soy sauce (I did use the soy sauce to make my famous fried rice).  So why did I do this?  I looked up the difference between the two and it made sense.  First, my understanding is that tamari is low wheat or no wheat (so I obviously got the no wheat, gluten free kind).  It is also less salty and more thick.  It also tastes really different.  It was described as a Japanese soy sauce.  Which made sense to me after trying it, as it tasted more like what a sushi restaurant would carry.  You can can click here to read more about the difference from another blogger. 

With that being said, i'll use the rest of the tamari, and try this recipe once with VH, and if it tastes drastically different, i'll continue to splurge.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon sesame oil or olive oil
1 pound ground beef (ground turkey if desired, ground pork would work as well)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (we omitted)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
9 cups shredded cabbage (we bought a bag of coleslaw)
1 3/4 cups shredded carrot
3 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup gluten-free tamari / soy sauce + more to taste.

Directions:

Add oil to large skillet on medium-high heat. Add ground beef, cook until brown and drain grease, if any.



Add chopped onion, cook until onions become translucent.



Stir in garlic powder, ground ginger, crushed red pepper, black pepper and salt.

Add cabbage and carrots. Stir it all together.



Add honey and tamari sauce. Cook for another 12-15 minutes on medium heat, or until cabbage and carrots are tender.



Serve as is or with rice.

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Gluten Free Tahini Chocolate Brownies

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My mother'n'law made these amazing tahini chocolate brownies that she found on www.bonappetit.com

We eat tahini a lot for both sweet and savory.  We have a great tahini cookie recipe that we started making after we learned about our daughters nut allergy.  It makes a great nutty type cookie.  So when my mother n law said she made these, I was excited to try and it was amazing.  I asked her for the recipe and she sent me a link to the www.bonappetit.com website.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons tahini, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon light agave syrup (nectar)

RECIPE PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8x8" baking dish with 2 overlapping pieces of parchment paper, leaving at least a 3" overhang on 2 sides.

Whisk cornstarch and cocoa powder in a medium bowl until no lumps remain. Heat chocolate, oil, and 1 Tbsp. tahini in a small saucepan over low, stirring, until melted and smooth.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light, smooth, and doubled in volume, 3–4 minutes. Beat in salt and vanilla to combine, then beat in chocolate mixture, scraping down sides as needed, until incorporated. Beat in cornstarch mixture, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thick and holds its shape, about 30 seconds.

Stir agave syrup and remaining 3 Tbsp. tahini in a small bowl. Scrape batter into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Dollop agave mixture over and swirl into top of batter with a skewer or toothpick.

Bake brownies until sides are puffed, top is browned, and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 22–26 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting into 16 squares.

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Date Night at the Hart's Table in Edmonton

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We recently had a date night at the Hart's Table in the Edmonton community of Riverbend.  This was our first time eating at the Hart's Table.  We thought to give it a try because it is part of the Century Hospitality Group which typically does really well with gluten free dining.

Hart's Table did not disappoint with plenty of marked options.

The place is pretty small, we recommend making a reservation because it was packed in there.

I took photos of the menu because they clearly mark menu items that can be made gluten free.  Click the photos to enlarge.




But now to the food.  We tried the gluten free sandwiches, although we were really tempted by the Hart's Burger Stack which was also marked as gluten free.  I think we will try that next time we go (Yes we will go back).

We first tried the kettle cooked chips and dip as a starter.  They were really good and stacked really high.  Quite reasonably priced as an appy if you ask me.


The two gluten free sandwiches we tried were the Pig & Fig and the Old School Club.  The Pig & Fig had roasted pork with fig jam, cheese, and greens.  It was tasty.  The Old School Club was what it was, an old school club.  The Fig & Pig certainly had the edge on the club.  The club sandwich was served cold, it would have been nicer I think if it was warmed up a little.  However, I think they worried about the gluten free bread falling apart if they warmed it up, which often happens.  



One of the down sides is that I don't think the waitress knew enough about the gluten free menu options, except for which items were gluten free.  Hart's Table seems to source their bread from Cobs Breads, so when we asked where their gf bread comes from, she says Cobs.  Now maybe, Cobs does bring n a GF bread from somewhere, but we felt like we were probably have slices from a Kinnikinnick gluten free loaf.



Hart's Table & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Making Dessert from Dessert - Gluten Free Edition

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I posted these gluten free cake pops a while ago on Facebook and thought this should be a blog post about making dessert from dessert.  Someone kind of laughed at me when I said my mother'n'law made these pop cakes from left over cake.  Mainly because they couldn't believe there would ever be left over desserts.

But guess what when my mother'n'law puts out a spread she puts out a spread!  Especially for special occasions.  We'd all be waddling out of their house if we ate everything.  She has an intricate system of baking, freezing and re-purposing to give new life.

I know we shouldn't have this problem, but especially when it comes to expensive gluten free baking items, this is an important tip to save you money and stretch out some desserts that might got fully eaten.


These gluten free pop cakes were made with half a left over cake.  All she did was take the leftover cake that was in the freezer and put it in a food processor with two tablespoons of pink icing and ran it until it got the the right consistency that she could mold them into balls.

She then drizzled them with white chocolate and let them settle.

This basically saved a cake that might have been in the freezer too long and dried up. 

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How much did you spend on gluten free foods last year?

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Well that is a wrap to 2017!  But all the shopping and all the eating will continue on n 2018.

Because we do save receipts so Amanda can claim the Celiac Expense for the gluten free foods purchased, it allows us to see how much we are actually spending on gluten free foods and where we are shopping for some of these goods.

We certainly shop at a lot of places during the year!  In total we went to 18 different stores to buy gluten free products, and spent over $1,300 on gluten free foods such as breads, buns, flours, snacks and so on for the year.

Where we spent

Not surprisingly Kinnikinnick Foods is where we spent most of our budget because we buy all of our gluten free all purpose flour, pancake mix and bread crumbs by the case at the Kinnikinnick Fresh store.  We also buy most of our gluten free bread and buns from the store, but those are not as frequent.



It also doesn't surprise me that Costco, Superstore and RioVida Gluten Free Bakery is where we spend more at.  We often buy gluten free pasta and chips at Costco, and most of our pizza crusts, and specialty breads are from RioVida.  Superstore is just where we do most of our general shopping.

Safeway, is next in line because they almost always have the gluten free Bisquick in stock, and we buy that for our waffles and stock up when on sale.

Where do you spend most of your gluten free budget?

What we bought?

This next chart tells a different story and shows what we spent our gluten free budget on.  As you can see a lot of it is on the gluten free pancake mix and all purpose gluten free flours that we purchase at the Kinnikinnick store.  This chart shows how expensive some gluten free products can be.  We bought gluten free breadcrumbs and stuffing once this year, but it shows up as a pretty high dollar value.  Its because it is so expensive in comparison to some of the other items.


What products have you purchased the most?

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Gluten Free Simply Simon Meals

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

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

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


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