Ben's Meats on Stoney Plain Rd in West Edmonton

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If you haven't been to Ben's Meats yet, you will after this post.  So what's so special about a butcher shop?  Well to start, the owner Dave has Celiac Disease, so he turned his shop into a gluten free friendly heaven of a butcher shop.  This family owned and operated butcher shop has been around since 1953, and the family has been running the butcher shop three generations already.  You can read the history of Ben's Meats on their website.

So lets get to the good stuff.

Below is TWO deep fryers that Dave setup.  Why two?  He wanted a dedicated gluten free fryer so he can serve up gluten free french fries, spring rolls and much much more goodies.

All of these eats are gluten free.  That is basically the whole fridge.

It gets better, freezer full of gluten free goodies from place like La Crema, Udi's ad Gluten Free Lacombe!

Here is bread he has for sale from the Totally Gluten Free Bakery in Lacombe.

And some pizza's

And he send out the pizza crusts to get turned into gluten free pot pies

So what are you waiting for?  BTW, Dave is a really nice guy, and he'll walk you around the shop to show you all their gluten free stuff!

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Living Gluten Free with Diabetes too

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I cannot explain why, but I have been asked multiple times as of late, how best to manage both Celiac disease and Diabetes at the same time. Now the most important piece of information I can provide is that I am not a doctor and I am not able to share medically sound advice. I can only tell you about my own personal experiences and opinions.

I myself have been a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic for 24 years now (crazy I know). I was  more recently diagnosed with Celiac disease after way too many years of not knowing why my iron was so dangerously low and why I felt sick with every item of food I ingested. While I was very thankful to have finally found out what was wrong and how to fix this feeling of constant exhaustion and nausea I experienced, I was struck by the oddity of having now been diagnosed with two separate autoimmune problems. What are the chances? Why me? Don’t I already have to deal with enough medical junk? I recall asking all of those questions and more and never being given an answer. This was likely because there is no real answer available. I also remember my endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) telling me that he was not surprised to hear that I had Celiac disease because “autoimmune problems tend to travel in groups” meaning that for whatever reason it is quite common for those who have one autoimmune issue to also have other autoimmune issues.

Well….that doesn't sound very good now, does it? I didn't think so either. The only thing that I did, that I can pass on to others who are dealing with multiple autoimmune diagnoses, was to try and remember that I somehow managed to figure out how to deal with and live with diabetes, so I can do this too!

Now the “how to live with and manage Diabetes and Celiac Disease” question, as particular illnesses, unrelated to any others that people may have….I don’t have any quick fixes, solutions or magical information to share. My only recommendations are to take things one day at a time, figure out what works for you as an individual, and be prepared for good days along with bad/rough days because they are never always in one category or the other. Be prepared for unwanted suggestions, advice and ideas from those who may have good intentions, but truly have no clue what it is like to live in your shoes. And most importantly don’t be too hard on yourself, but be sure to always take of your own health. No one else can do that for you and that’s just the way it is. You are your own best advocate and if you have questions, be sure to ask them because how else can you ever possibly be expected to learn if you don’t ask the questions.

I am by no means an expert in diabetes management, but I feel confident in my own management of Type 1 Diabetes. Management of Type 2 Diabetes or Gestational Diabetes is a whole other story that I truly have no personal experience with. However I do believe that some similar principals apply: making healthy food choices, checking your blood sugars as directed by your medical team and asking questions as they come up. Now, adding in Celiac disease along with any type of diabetes can make food choices more challenging because in order to make gluten free foods taste more like “regular” foods the companies often have to add additional fats, sugars and starch laden ingredients to their products. It is important to remember that these ingredients will inevitably increase the carbohydrate (carb) count on any food, which may make you think twice about eating them. Or maybe you will choose to continue eating them anyways. It’s up to you. Your diabetes may vary. I think it is important to remember that with any dietary change for any possible reason it is just that….a change and it needs to be recognized as such. Change is hard for everyone and change involves choices and contemplation and challenging oneself to figure out the “new normal” for them.

I don’t remember who said this, but I want to quote it anyways because I like it and think it’s applicable to this post. This quote speaks volumes to me in relation to the changes involved in any new diagnosis, but in my experience in relation to the addition of Celiac disease on top of long standing Type 1 Diabetes management. 

“Anything great never came without effort, patience and time. If it did, you wouldn't remember to appreciate where it came from or what went into its creation”.

All the very best to everyone and keep asking questions, they’re all important.

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GF Diner just got Bigger and Better!

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GF Diner on 82 ave. really just stepped it up a notch when it comes to their diner experience.  During the summer they were going through some hefty reno's to really enhance the diner experience.

So what changed?  What got bigger and better?  GF Diner doubled their seating area allowing more diners to enjoy their all gluten free menu at a time.

They are are updating their menu and will have new menu items offerings on an ongoing basis.  Be sure to check the GF Diner website, Twitter and Facebook account for daily and weekly specials.

GF Diner also now offers beer, wine and ciders now, as they got their liquor license.

But wait their is more!

They have a retail store area!  The retail section will be a mix of in-house gluten free products to be bought by customers to take home, such as baking and cooking ingredients, some gluten free mixes, ready to heat gluten free products like lunches and dinners, soups, etc.: Lasagnas, Pizzas, Pizza pockets, chicken fingers, burgers, perogies, pastas, etc. 

Gluten free meals will typically change often with staples such as pizzas and lasagna being available at all times. In addition to the these entrée type items, they will have in-house baked goods available, some breads, buns, treats, iced cupcakes cinnamon buns etc.

They will also carry top sellers from other gluten free suppliers like Kinnikinnick Foods, such as their complete soft line, some mixes, cookies. They will also sell Dr. Schaer line of gluten free products.
Not done yet, because GF Diner really wants you to stay, have a drink and have a good time!  Some activities, they are planning on a regular basis are:
  • Special reservation only dinners
    • Pizza and beer night , most likely every Friday evening
    • Perogies and Pasta nights
    • Pub night with Fish and Chips
    • Featured Country dishes
  • Nightcap concert series is once a month, typically on a Thursday night with a special meal item, these evenings will always feature a concert by professional music artists in a listening venue and a meal with desert, just like our last one.
  • Classical Concert Coffee time once a month on Sunday afternoons between 2-4, with professional musicians perform a concert.  Specialty cakes and tortes, like Sacher tortes, seasonal tortes, mocha tortes, black forest cakes etc. to be served as well.

Be sure to check their website for all of these great events.

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For my brother Dan - My Gluten Free Beef Wellington Experience

Today mark's the second anniversary of my brother's sudden passing.  The only way I can think of continuing honouring him is to try and love cooking half as much as he did.  Last year in honour of his Haggis and Herring blog I made Haggis and Herring.  This year, I decided to take on a Beef Wellington.

Dan, I miss you with all my heart!

The idea of a Beef Wellington all started with the release of Pillsbury's gluten free pastry dough.  The first thing that came to my head wasn't pie (because I'm not a baker), but Beef Wellington!  Why Beef Wellington?  Because Chef Gordon Ramsay has it as a staple on the Hell's Kitchen menu.  What a great challenge.  Try and make a Beef Wellington good enough that Gordon Ramsay won't be screaming at you telling you its RAW and throwing it down like it's garbage.

So task #1.  Find a recipe.  I opened up my Food Network App, search wellington, and spotted a recipe that looked good to me by Tyler Florence (recipe shared below).

Task #2, search out the ingredients.  The only unique ingredients was the tenderloin cut (filet mignon) and procuitto (yes the tenderloin was wrapped in yummyness).

Knowing that I needed to do this right and go to a butcher, I went to Ben's Meat for the tenderloin.  I knew the meat was going to be expensive for 3lbs, and $60 later I was about to work with the most expensive cut of meat I have ever worked with.  And to be honest, that was a good price for that meat.

task #4 tackle this bad boy of a recipe.  I spent the better part of a morning prepping the meat and the insides of the wellington.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy, so I even called in reinforcements when it came to working with the gluten free pastry.

So what was the end results?  A slight mess!  It actually tasted amazing, and the meat was perfect.  But there are two things I didn't do well that could have made this dish perfect.

As you can see the crust kind of fell apart
First thing, I didn't roll the tenderloin tight enough.  I found it a challenge to wrap the tenderloin with the prosciutto and mushroom stuffing really right with the seran wrap.  I knew it wasn't perfectly tight, but I thought it was pretty good.  If you try this recipe, make sure you wrap it really tight.  There should be no give so when you put the tenderloin in the fridge, it will do a better job at holding its shape before wrapping it with the pastry.

Second thing I messed up on, was cutting the vents in the pastry.  I could not have wrapped this damn thing, without the help of my pastry loving mother'n'law.  I just had no idea what I was doing.  We then cut the vents, but I think we needed to cut the vents deeper, or cut more of them.  This particular recipe had a mushroom stuffing and mushroom contains lots of water.  So, although the top stayed crispy (and damn that Pillsbury makes a good gluten free pastry crust), the bottom got really soggy because the moisture couldn't escape to well.

So here is the recipe:

The Ultimate Beef Wellington - From Tyler Florence

For the Duxelles:
  • 3 pints (1 1/2 pounds) white  button mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the Duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

For the Beef:
  • 1 (3-pound) center cut  beef tenderloin ( filet mignon), trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 pound  puff pastry, thawed if using frozen
  • 2 large  eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse  sea salt
  • Minced  chives, for garnish
  • Green Peppercorn Sauce, recipe follows
  • Roasted  Fingerling Potatoes
  • Warm Wilted Winter Greens, recipe follows

To prepare the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil - about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board. Shingle the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef. Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic.  Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides, brushing with egg wash to seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef - saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Top with coarse sea salt. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.

Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife - this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices. Garnish with minced chives, and serve with Green Peppercorn Sauce, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and Warm Wilted Winter Greens.

Green Peppercorn Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh  thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 box  beef stock
  • 2 cups  cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup green  peppercorns in  brine, drained, brine reserved
Add olive oil to pan after removing beef. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then, off heat, add brandy and flambe using a long kitchen match. After flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half. Strain out solids, then add 2 cups cream and mustard. Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add green peppercorns.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking sheet inside to heat.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh  Herbs and Garlic:
  • 2 pints fingerling potatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic, left unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus for  sheet pan
  • Salt and pepper
Add potatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet pan from oven, lightly coat with olive oil, and pour potatoes onto pan. Place potatoes in oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crispy on outside and tender on inside.


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The Essential Baking Company - Gluten Free Bread

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Amanda and I noticed a new gluten free bread at Costco, but never picked it up.  That didn't stop one of readers to try it and send in her review of the product.  Check out Neva's review of The Essential Baking Company gluten free bread found at Costco.

I found a new gluten free bread made by "The Essential Baking Company" at Costco, 50 Street location, last week and it is absolutely the best bread I have tasted since being diagnosed Celiac. This bread remains soft even after bring toasted or grilled. One would never believe it is gluten free! It sort of reminds me of the Silver Hills Squirrelly bread I used to eat prior to being diagnosed. I highly recommend if you enjoy a bread with sunflower seeds and flax, plus a huge benefit is the 5 grams of fiber each slice provides.  The cost is $8.99 for a 2 loaf package. In my opinion, the competition is going to have to step up, alot, to beat this excellent gluten free bread.

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Great Sweets and Savoury Treats! (gluten free of course)

Amanda and I contributed this article to the Celiac Circular.  Become a member of the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter to receive all the great Celiac and gluten free related articles in their newsletter.

There is never a shortage of new products to try out thankfully, but finding room in your tummy is another question.  Luckily I am always posting great finds to the Gluten Free Edmonton Facebook Page and our Gluten Free Edmonton blog so it sometimes makes it easy to go back and find what to write for the product report.

This month we found some great sweets and savoury treats, some are new and some have been around awhile.

Gluten Free Post Cocoa & Fruity Pebbles - Okay let's be honest, this is not exactly new, but it is still fairly new to Canada.  The kids love it, and so do many adults as well and they make awesome squares (think rice krispie square but a bit different) Yum.  Not to mention, we found it at Dollarama for two dollars!  In the past we have found it selling for $4 per box.

Club House Brown Gravy - Approved by the Canadian Celiac Association Gluten Free Certification Program, we tried this gravy with fries and it was so delicious, you wouldn't even know it as gluten free.  Be sure to look at the packaging because not all of the Club House gravies are gluten free.  You can find these gravies at most supermarkets.
All But Gluten Chocolate Sandwich  - Who didn't like these growing up? We won't plug the popular brand name, but we all know what these really are and they also taste really good.  Can you tell we had a sweet tooth this month? You can find All But Gluten products at Superstore and Wal-Mart

RioVida's Perogies, Cheese Balls & Donuts - Najah, owner of RioVida is often too kind.  If you've been to the RioVida Bakery in the west end, you know what I'm really talking about.  She is always happy to offer up some samples to try before buying her home made delicious creations.  Try the perogies, donuts and Brazillian cheese balls just to start.  Heck try everything!

Catelli's Gluten Free Macaroni - Catelli's gluten free line of pasta is not new, but they recently introduced a new gluten free macaroni.  We have enjoyed their pasta.  It is a corn/rice mix and typically holds pretty well leaving you with a great non-mushy pasta to enjoy.

Explore Asia- Gluten free Organic Black bean spaghetti-  This product is found at Costco stores. We have not yet tried it but the packaging claimed to be super high in protein, gluten free, soy free  and vegan friendly.

Judy G's Gluten Free frozen pizzas (various flavors) -These product can be found at many Sobeys  & Coop stores throughout Alberta.  Awhile back we had the opportunity to meet Judy herself. Her pizza's are excellent and very easy to make. She had told us that she started out making them in her own kitchen in Calgary, so they are essentially a locally made product (well local to Alberta).


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