Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Tabs

Just a quick post today- the Product Review Tab and the Gluten Free Travel Tab are up, and I'll be placing the links to previous posts under each heading tomorrow. 

Also, don't forget to check out my weekly menu plans under the menu plan tab.  This week's menu is there, along with links to the menus for every week so far this year. Can't wait to start getting our seasonal produce delivery and creating some recipes based on local, seasonal produce!

Have a great evening!

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Goals Update

I usually update my goals for 2011 on the last day of the month, but for some reason I really felt like doing it today!  May has been a hectic, crazy month and I'm ready to welcome in the summer.  My biggest accomplishment this month?  Handing in my completed first draft of my thesis to my supervisor today!  YAY!!!!  This has been a loooong process!

On the home front, we got our roof re-shingled, which was this year's big household expenditure.   Now I just have to get around to painting the garage door and all the trim, and my outdoor projects for 2011 will pretty much be out of the way. 

I started my Couch to 5k program, but the incessant rain has slowed down that progress.  The forecast for the summer is hot and dry, so I can't wait to get back out there again this week.  I also signed up again for our seasonal vegetable delivery box to begin in June, and I've got a garden full of goodness that I hope provides us with some fresh vegetables and herbs this season.

I've managed to keep blogging every day, keeping up with the bloggymom blog dare I signed up for at the beginning of the year.  Now that I have a few weeks without any thesis duties to attend to while my supervisor reads my paper, I've got a few things to take care of on the blog. 

Finally, with the exception of this past week, I've enjoyed spending two days a week home with my son, taking him to his activity class at the community centre and just generally spending time together.  In September when I go back to work, he'll be back in daycare 5 days a week.

So, there it is.  My way of keeping myself honest!  What's up for June?  Other than potty training?  (Which is going pretty well, thanks for asking)  Let's see if I'm half way to completing 5k, shall we?  No pressure.  Ugh.

How are your goals for the year going?  I'd love to hear from you!

Enjoy the last day of May tomorrow!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Thesis writing got in the way of cooking for the week, so unfortunately there are no photos since I'll be cooking day by day.  But here is what we'll be eating this week:

Monday: Gluten and Dairy Free Polenta Lasagna and a Mixed Greens Salad

Tuesday: Gluten Free Fish and Oven Crisp Chips with a side of Carrot Slaw

Wednesday: Dairy Free Cream of Asparagus Soup and Tuna Muffins

Thursday: Homemade Falafel, Eggplant dip, and Tomato salad

Friday: Chicken and Rice Soup, Vegetable Sticks with leftover Eggplant Dip

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Making Tortillas

                Making tortillas with my little one a few weeks ago.  He eats them like they're candy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Five Things on a Friday: Thesis Edition

Since I've been sitting in front of a computer for almost 12 hours at this point, here is my Thesis Edition Friday Five post:

1- Listening to music makes the time go by more quickly when writing, but if I listen to songs I know the words to, I can't think.  So, it's either classical music or the fabulous upbeat Spanish songs my brother in law recommends that are too fast for me to get distracted by the words.

2- If I don't put limits on my coffee consumption, I could easily down more than a pot a day.  I need to switch to tea.

3- I am thankful for the rain.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything when there's bad weather.

4- My 100 in 2011 list would be more than complete if I included all the academic books I've read this year.

5- Even though I can't wait for my draft to be done, I absolutely love the writing process.  I think this makes me a freak of nature.

Just as a heads up, the menu plan will go up on Sunday, and next week the Product Review tab with any products/services I've thought worthy of review will go up. So will my Gluten Free Travel tab, where I'll include posts about traveling in general, and gluten free traveling in particular! 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Up to my eyeballs in Thesis writing

I am the worst friend ever.  Today, a good friend of mine pretty much checked in to see if I was still alive since I haven't responded to her previous two emails.  Sometimes I need a little nudge to remind me that there is a world outside of the computer screen I have been staring at for most of my waking hours the past few months. 

The truth is, my thesis should have been finished a few months ago.

This year, my deferred salary leave year, was initially set up so that my son would start daycare, and I would write my thesis.

Then he got sick.

Every day sick.

Sent home from the daycare-can't-bring-him-back-for-at-least-twenty-four-hours-sick. 

Bloating.  Gas.  Diarrhea.  Weight loss.  Mood changes.  Low iron and vitamin absorption.  Temper tantrums.  Only well enough to go to daycare 4 days during the whole month of December. 

We took him out of daycare two days a week because he was home most of the time anyway.

My focus, understandably, shifted.

Thankfully, we figured out pretty quickly that gluten was the culprit, and once we got his diet under control and his insides had a chance to heal, his health improved.  He still stays home two days a week, and I spend the other three writing. 

So it's taken a little longer than I had anticipated to get the full first draft out.  But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  As much as I would love to push back my self-imposed deadline of Monday, when I meet my supervisor, I won't do it. 

Even if it means that the computer screen will continue to be my best friend for the next few days.

Even if it means that I have to give up spending as much quality time as I would like with my husband and son this weekend.

Even if it means that the Product Review tab and the Gluten Free Travel tab on my blog must be postponed. 

(There's nothing like being a martyr.  Especially when I'm the one who got myself into this mess in the first place!)

At least it's raining.  I don't feel so bad being stuck inside. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Long Weekend Fun:  Three cousins, bonding over some sand!  Who needs expensive toys?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Couch to 5K: Day One

As I was looking for the post in which I finally announced to someone other than my husband that I would be trying to follow the two month program that is designed to get non-runners fit enough to run 5K, I realized that while I had posted it, I had never given it a title.  How's that for trying to keep something under wraps?  Click here if you'd like to read it.

I had planned on starting last week, but the non-stop rain put a damper (no pun intended) on that plan, and so I pushed things back a week.  Although I am on a tight deadline to get the final chapter and conclusion of my thesis done, I figured a little extra blood flow to the brain couldn't hurt.  And the program only takes twenty minutes to complete.  So, I threw on my pre-maternity running shoes, my cropped track pants and a comfy tee, grabbed the MP3 player and hit the road. 

I made it through five of the approximately ten alternations of jogging/walking before it became equal amounts of walking/walking.  That said, I started the program (which to be honest, I wasn't certain I would ever really get around to), and I completed 20 minutes of exercise.  Combined with my 1 1/2 hour walk with my friend on Saturday, and I have put in almost two hours of exercise this week.  This is not a sprint to the finish line. 

I feel great to have gotten started, I loved being out in the sunshine, and I'm looking forward to trying again.  Maybe next time I'll actually jog for more than 5 of the twenty minutes.

Maybe not. 

I'll never know unless I try.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

I planned out this week's menu, but only cooked a few meals in advance, so forgive the lack of photos for a few days' meals.  Here's what's on the menu at my house this week:

Monday: Leftover BBQ Chicken & Ribs, Corn and Black Bean Salad and Coleslaw

Tuesday: Cashew Chicken Korma with Peas and Steamed Rice 

Wednesday: Minestrone Soup, Beef Empanadas and Kale Chips  

 Thursday: Tuna Burgers, Baked Asparagus and Greek-Style Salad 

Friday: Stuffed Eggplant on a bed of Savory Quinoa

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Family, Fireworks and Gluten Free Fun All Around

One of the things that we strive to achieve is making gluten and dairy free eating a normal part of our life o that we're not preparing separate meals for ourselves and our son.  Sometimes we'll add some cheese to a dish after cooking, but we never eat separate meals.  This doesn't change when people come to visit. 

Today my Aunt and Uncle, my cousin and her almost 3 year old son stopped in for a visit.  My parents, sister and her 3 year old came over too, and it was the first time that all the little ones were together. 

What did we feed everyone?

BBQ Chicken and Ribs
Creamy Potato Salad
Oil and Vinegar Coleslaw
Corn and Black Bean Salad
Chickpea Salad
Mixed Greens Salad 
Gluten Free Pasta
Gluten and Dairy Free Garbanzo Cake and Chocolate Orange Cake

Does that sound like a deprivation diet to you?  Going gluten free is not something I apologize for, because with a little forethought no one even misses it.  In fact, our guests frequently ask us if our son can eat something we've put out, because they can't believe that gluten and dairy free items like the chocolate orange cake we had today can taste so good!

It was fun to watch the next generation of cousins run around and play together today, and I got to catch up with some relatives that I really only see every few years.  To top it off, we had a front row seat to the fireworks! 

Tomorrow it's back to reality and back to thesis writing.  The Weekly Menu Plan will go up tomorrow.  Happy Gluten Free May 2-4!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Can Honestly Say No One Has Ever Considered Me Stylish Before...

So I must admit that I'm more than a little excited to have been generously given the Stylish Blogger Award from Cool Bean Mommas.  I recently discovered her blog chronicling her adventures living abroad (with nannies-I'm beyond jealous) and enjoying life with her family.  Definitely a blog worth checking out. 

As part of this award of mysterious origins, I get to tell you 7 things about myself, and then pass on the honor to 10 blogs that are new to me.  Here goes:

1- I am a complete tomboy: I love playing and watching sports, am partial to jeans and t-shirts, and know how to do a ridiculous number of construction type activities thanks to my father. 

2- I am a total bookworm and can plow through any novel in record time:  Regardless of how tired I am, I stay up to read before bed every night.  What varies are the types of books:  more mindless when I have a lot on the go, more serious stuff when I don't.

3- There aren't a whole lot of material things I wouldn't give up in exchange for travel:  Not just beach travel either- I love it all, from figuring out the bus schedule posted only in Arabic in Egypt to staying in solar powered cabins in the jungles of Guatemala, it's all good.  I sometimes get upset by the thought that I'll never be able to see every place on the planet.

4- I'm still a night owl even though my son wakes up at around 6:30 every day and I've the bags under my eyes to prove it.

5- I can't stand the cold.  And I live in Canada.  Just because you get used to the cold doesn't mean you have to like it.  You will never hear me complain about the heat.  Unless I'm pregnant.

6- One of my biggest dreams has always been to have a novel published.  Ideally several, but you know, one would be good too!

7- I love writing lists, often more than I like actually completing the items on it.  It's the crossing out of a completed item that keeps me motivated!

Ten Deserving Blogs
Now for the best part, passing on the torch!  I've been blogging for less than 6 months, so pretty much all of these blogs are fairly new.  They are all deserving of a little recognition.

1. Allie at Baby Fields writes about the challenges and miracles of raising her incredible children.  Her honesty about her life inspires me to be more honest on my own blog. 

2. Funky Mama Bird is a witty, funny blog that always puts me in a good mood.

3- Candy Hearts is dear to my heart because Wendy was the first ever (only ever) guest blogger on my site, and she put more attention to detail and effort into her post than my tiny little blog deserved.  She is also a great advocate for Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

4- Ava Grace's Closet.  Not only because I love the names Ava and Grace, but also because her blog is quite stylish.  Much more stylish than my own I must confess.

5- Joy Just Because.  The title says it all, really.

6- The Knit Wit By Shair.  Seriously, the title is enough to make you want to check out this blog. 

7- Caffeinated Autism Mom.  Shares her experiences raising two boys on the Autism spectrum, maintaining her sense of humor through it all.

8- GF Savvy.  All things Gluten Free.  An issue clearly near and dear to my heart.

9- M's Art Impressions.  The photography and artwork on this site are delicious.  When I'm in need of a pick-up, I scroll through this site.

10- Multiple Mayhem Mamma.  Funny, honest, engaging.  A really great blog.

Well, there it is.  10 Stylish bloggers, all doing their thing.  Check them out and show them some love.  They deserve it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Things on a Friday: Long Weekend!

In Canada, we celebrate Victoria Day (you know, for Queen Victoria....) That means we get Monday off work.  Most Canadians just refer to this as May 2-4 (you know, for the 24 pack of beer), but I will be referring to it as May Gluten Free 2-4 (not quite the same ring I don't think).  Here are my five things for this weekend:
1- Getting our roof re-shingled:  That is happening today.  Somehow, my two year old, who wakes up if you open his bedroom door to peek in on him, took a two and a half hour nap while the roofers banged around on the roof over his head.  Go figure.

2- Saturday Morning Walk:  I love that one of my coworkers lives in the same neighbourhood, especially now that we take a weekly walk together.  It's usually on Mondays, but the rain has changed our plans.  I will start my Saturday morning with a hopefully dry, sunshiny walk with a friend.

3- Thesis:  I meet my prof. May 30.  He is expecting a complete draft.  I'm only a good 40 pages away.  That walk is going to be the only bit of sunshine I see tomorrow.

4- Family:  My Aunt and Uncle are coming from Cornwall, and my cousin is coming down with her son to visit on Sunday.  Chicken, a variety of cold salads, gluten free chocolate chip cookies and a juicy watermelon are the perfect way to kick off the summer.

5- Fireworks:  One of the perks of living close to an amusement park is having front row seats to the fireworks just by pulling out the lawn chairs onto the driveway.  It's also a great way to spend some time with your neighbours.

I'll still be blogging though, and the menu plan will go up as well.  Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Family Photos!

A few months ago a good friend of ours, Kellyanne of Kels Photography took some family photos.  Today, her hubby dropped off the final photos.  So, although I had another post ready to go, I can't help but post a few of the wonderful shots she took of my family.  You'll notice in some photos my son is either holding or chewing on a gluten free cracker (with the accompanying chipmunk cheeks).  Let's just say he was not the most cooperative child that he could have been that day!  She still managed to get some great shots though.  Here are a few.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A few years ago, my husband and I made two trips to Quebec, Canada.  One was to St. Felicien, in Northern Quebec for the wedding of two friends.  The other was to Quebec City for our second wedding anniversary, when I was pregnant with our son.  It rained like crazy on both trips, and the constant rain this week reminded me of those trips!

My husband, in a historical park, St. Felicien

St. Felicien, Quebec

St. Felicien, Quebec

Chateau Frontenac, in Quebec City

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Novak Djokovic Gluten Free

I saw this little article here this morning and felt compelled to write about it on my blog.  I am a huge tennis fan, and my two year old for some reason has taken a liking to Djokovic, asking "Where's Djokovic?" if he's not on the court when a match is on.  Maybe he knew something that I didn't!

The article states that Novak Djokovic, the world's Number 2 tennis player, found out through tests that he was allergic to gluten.  Other reports have him diagnosed with Celiac, and I can't seem to find a definitive answer to which it is.  While it's important to point out that a gluten allergy and Celiac disease are not the same thing, the ultimate treatment remains the same: a gluten free diet for life. 

Why is his health condition getting so much attention?  Because his change in diet coincided with a winning streak that saw him win the Australian Open and has continued unbroken right up to his win in Rome on the weekend.  He credits the way he feels on his new diet for helping him become a better player. 

Anyone on a gluten free diet will tell you that it's not a miracle diet, nor is it the magical weight loss cure that some celebrities try to sell.  It can be complicated to get all the proper nutrients needed to be healthy, and some gluten free foods contain more calories than their gluten-filled counterparts.  And most regular people don't have the benefit of professional nutritionists and chefs organizing and preparing their every meal the way celebrities and athletes do.

Still, it's always satisfying to hear that someone feels better and is healthier as a result of finally figuring out what was holding their health back.  And having a top athlete bring attention to the issue, particularly during Celiac Awareness month, can only be a good thing in terms of bringing gluten issues into the mainstream.

By the way, if you want to see him in action, the French Open starts next weekend!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Perfect Pasta Dish for a Busy Busy Monday

Do you ever feel like you have a thousand things to do and about ten minutes to get them done?  That's my life this week!  Thankfully I managed to do most of the cooking for the week yesterday. 

Tonight's dinner was a prime example of quite possibly the simplest pasta dish out there, that is a little bit dressier than the typical tomato sauce version.

Artichoke Pesto-Style Pasta

1 bag gluten free pasta of choice
1 jar artichoke bruschetta topping

Optional: Parmesan or Romano cheese as garnish, or some chopped, fresh herbs.  Omit cheese for the dairy free version.

1-Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot.
2- Toss with jar of artichoke bruschetta topping and transfer to serving bowl. 
3- Garnish with shaved Parmesan or sprinkle with grated cheese.  We go dairy free because of my son, so some sprigs of parsley or some chopped fresh basil add some bright colour to our plates.

Serve hot!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

This week's menu plan contains some new recipes that I've never prepared before, as well as a few simple standbys that always serve me well. 

 Monday: Gluten and Dairy Free Artichoke Pesto Pasta & Garden Salad with Sliced Avocado

Tuesday: Senegalese Style Chicken and Potato Salad 


Wednesday: White Bean and Leek Soup, Chicken Spinach Meatballs   
 and Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic

Thursday: Pea Soup, Turkey Sausage and Cranberry Walnut Salad

Friday: Leftover Sliced Turkey Sausage, Homemade Corn Tortillas   
served with Refried Black Beans, Tomato Salsa and Homemade
Guacamole  (I haven't made it yet, but this is a photo of my son
eating something similar in El Salvador.  As you can see, he approves!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Seven Things on a Saturday: Date Night Edition!

Tonight my parents have graciously offered to host my son for a sleepover at their house so my husband and I can have a date night.  We dropped him off at lunchtime, and set out on our afternoon/evening date.  I'm posting this before getting ready to leave the house!

1- High School Reunion:  My high school turned 50 this year, so we stopped in to the open house today.  My husband grew up in a different country, so it was fun to show him what high school looked like for me!  I forgot how BIG my high school was!  A great trip down memory lane and a wonderful start to our afternoon.

2- Relaxed Iced Coffee:  Sitting down with my husband at a coffee shop and just watching the world go by is not something we do a lot of these days.  I like taking my son out with us, but it was fun to just relax on our own schedule.

3- Planning: Ok so maybe this is the least romantic part of the day, but with a two year old, practicality sometimes wins out.  There are a few rooms in our house that we're trying to reorganize to be more useful, and we did some planning around that this afternoon.  Particularly the dining room, which I'd like to remain as a dining room, but that will also function as my workspace.  With all of the storage hidden.  We'll see how that works out.

4- IKEA: This is where we will be heading next to look around and get some ideas.  Again, don't judge me.  This works for us!

5- Dinner:  We will be heading from furniture browsing to a lovely dinner, probably involving gluten-and dairy-free items that we have banned from our home!  Well, at least my husband will be ordering those things.  I've been feeling better since changing my diet too.

6- Dancing/Movie:  This depends on the weather.  It's been raining like crazy all day, and I really don't feel like driving all the way to the place we like to go in bad weather.  I know that I sound like a crazy old lady right now, but I don't care.  The days of sacrificing comfort for a club are LOOOONNNNGGGG GONE.

7- Glass of Wine:  I can't believe how long it's been since my husband and I have just chilled on the couch with a glass of wine.  Can't wait!

Reminder:  The menu plan will be posted tomorrow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Update: Kimberly's Celiac Bakery

In March, I posted this review of Kimberly's Celiac Bakery.  The bread, cookies and muffins were some of the best gluten free options I've ever tried.  Unfortunately at the time, they didn't have a website up and running.  I promised that I'd post it when they got it up, and they have. 

Click here to be taken directly to their home page.  It's still quite new, but there is a full product list with prices (in Canadian $).  If you're in the Toronto/York Region area, I've come across their products at Nut'N Gluten in Vaughan and Sue's Market in Richmond Hill. 

I also discovered that they have two locations, when previously they only had one. 

1) 415 Oakdale Rd, Unit 361D
North York, Ontario
M3N 1W7

2) 153 Finch Ave. W
North York, Ontario
M2N 2J1

Thursday's Post Product Review: Something Good Cupcake Mix

This post should have gone up yesterday, but blogger was down.  I'm posting it today, but I'll also be putting up a post for today later tonight, so be sure to check back later!

Something Good Cupcake Mix
I was craving something sweet today, and while rummaging through my cupboard I found a box of cupcake mix that came highly recommended from a staff member at the local Gluten Free store.  I love that there is an entire store dedicated to gluten free food near my house.  But I digress.

A little background:  The something Good Company is an Australian company, and has the seal of approval of the Australian Coeliac Association.  Their website explains the background of the company, the facility the products are produced in and the testing process to ensure that they're gluten free, as well as a full list of products in their line.

The Something Good cupcake mix contains everything you need to make white-cake cupcakes, including a mix for icing and sprinkles.  To top it all off, the mix is gluten, dairy and nut free.  I rounded up my local two year old, and we got to work making the muffins. 

Preparing the mix is simple: Powdered cupcake mix, eggs and some water.  Blend on high for three minutes.  That’s the part my son gets excited about.  The mix came together nicely and was the perfect amount for 12 cupcakes. 

The icing required some margarine (I always use a dairy substitute), and some water, and resulted in a smooth, creamy icing.  I found it a bit runny at first, but it firmed up after letting it stand for a few minutes.  Perhaps I needed to beat it a bit longer, but regardless, the flavor was delicious!

Result:  The cupcakes rose like regular cupcakes do, and pulled away from the liners cleanly.  They were a little bit dense, but not dry.  The vanilla flavor of the muffins was not overpowered by the icing and the sprinkles.  The icing is sweet, and I decided to only use about a quarter of the sprinkles provided.  If they look a little sparse in the photo, rest assured that you could completely cover your cupcakes with them if desired!  My son is a little hit or miss with sprinkles, so I went easy.  

Most importantly, the cupcakes passed the ultimate test, my son.  Icing is never a concern; he licked all the icing off the top and then asked for another cupcake.  The test came when I told him he had to eat the cupcake before he could have another.  He took a bite, and rather than spit it out (which has happened more times than I’d care to discuss), he devoured it in about three bites, and then asked for more.  I’d say that’s a wholehearted endorsement if I’ve ever seen one.

He ate the icing so quickly, I couldn't snap the photo before it was gone!

Verdict: I love that the package comes with everything- mix, icing and sprinkles.  The process was simple and required very few additional ingredients.  Most importantly, the texture and flavor were good and everyone in the house (my husband, my son and I) liked them enough to have two each.  This product will become a staple in our house.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

My son, checking out his bubble machine

The mommies: my sister, my mom and me

There were so many bubbles, he didn't know what to do! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe: Oven Baked Halibut with Mushrooms & Zucchini with a Spinach and Corn Salad

A few weeks ago on a Saturday or a Sunday, I suddenly had the urge for fish.  Fish is not something I cook regularly, although I don't know why that is, since I actually like many fish dishes quite a bit.  I gave in to my craving, and bought a few boneless halibut fillets, and threw together a simple dinner.

If preparing this entire meal, prepare the vegetables first and get them in the oven about 5 minutes before the fish.

Ingredients For Fish (serves 2)

2 pieces boneless halibut or other firm, white fish
1 tablespoon of room-temperature butter (I use a non-dairy butter substitute)
1 clove garlic, crushed through a garlic press or minced
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onion or chives for garnish
aluminum foil to line baking sheet

Oven 350F

1- Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or grease cookie sheet.
2- In a small cup, mix together butter, garlic, a few shakes of salt and pepper.
3- Place fish on baking sheet, and using a pastry brush, brush the tops of fish with garlic butter.
4- Place in oven and cook until white all the way through, approx. 15-18 min.
5- Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped green onions or chives when serving.

Oven Baked Mushrooms and Zucchini

4 oz. sliced mushrooms (about half a package of sliced mushrooms)
1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of dried, mixed herbs (I prefer Proven├žal mix, but dried thyme and marjoram work well)

Oven 350F

 1- Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, or grease sheet.
2- In a bowl, place olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper and give it a stir to mix.
3- Drop in mushrooms and zucchini and mix until coated.  Add some additional olive oil if necessary.
4- Place vegetables on baking sheet in a single layer.
5- Cook until cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. 

Serve with a Spinach and Corn Salad

Place a layer of baby spinach on a plate.  Place sliced tomato and avocado on top.  Sprinkle corn kernels over salad and top with a lime/mustard vinaigrette.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper

Mix well and taste.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.  I like my dressings strong.  If you prefer a lighter taste, thin with some additional oil, or some water.  Add a pinch of sugar or some honey for a sweeter flavour. 

A great early summer dinner.  Enjoy with a glass of white wine!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gluten Free Menu Plan

Sorry about the late post, but here's my menu plan for the week!

Monday: Chicken Cacciatore with Lemon Mushroom Risotto   

Tuesday: Chorizo & Black Bean Soup, Fritatta and Spring Greens

Wednesday: Sweet & Sour Pork and Vegetable Fried Rice   

Thursday: Leek and Potato Soup, Leftover Vegetable Fried Rice

Friday: Gluten Free Pasta in a Garlic, Mushroom and Tomato Sauce          

Menu Plan to Be Posted Later Today

All of these Sunday holidays are throwing my menu planning off track!  I will get a menu plan up this afternoon or this evening, hopefully with some photos to accompany the dishes.  Be sure to check back later!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the mothers out there who have wiped up more snotty noses and dirty bums than they care to think about, this day is for you! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day filled with hugs and kisses and love from the ones you brought into this world, as well as the ones who are grateful that it was you, and not them, who had to do it.

To my own mom, I love you and I thank you for everything.  Being a mom isn't easy, but you never made it look hard.

                                                          HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Seven List: Last Minute Mother's Day Activities for Kids

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and if your family is like my family, it means that there will be a family gathering, and children looking for things to do while the adults are busy getting a meal ready.  Here are a few activities to keep small children entertained without much effort or many supplies.

1- Do it yourself jewellery boxes/treasure chests:  Any dollar store hinged, plain wooden box will do.  Using whatever materials you have on hand, let the kids go wild decorating their boxes.  Paint, crayons, stickers, buttons, felt, ribbon, fabric, etc. can all be used to great effect when decorating the boxes.

2-Pie plate cymbals:  We made these at the mom and tot class I take my son to, and he loved it.  Take two aluminum pie plate liners and two pipe cleaners.  Poke the pipe cleaners through the middle of each plate to make handles and voila, cymbals.  The fun part comes when it's time to decorate.  We used stickers, but markers or paint could be used by older children.

3- Card stock doorknob hangers:  Using a piece of card stock, cut out a rectangle with a circle near the top big enough to go over a doorknob.  Write _________' Room on the hanger (or have the child write it) and then allow the child to decorate the hanger using crayons, markers, stickers or any other lightweight material on hand.  Older children can write a little message on the hanger as well.

4- Pipe cleaner garden:  Use clean glass jars with the tops removed as the holder.  Using pipe cleaners as flower stems, tie a not a the top of each pipe cleaner.  Using construction paper, cut out flower shapes and push the pipe cleaner through the middle.  Arrange pipe cleaners in the glass jar, using gluten free modeling clay to keep them in place if desired.  Have the children decorate the outside of the jars by painting or placing stickers.

5- Mother's Day Mural:  If you're like me, you have a roll of paper lying around for painting and drawing.  If the weather is nice, take it outside, tape it up to a fence or a wall and let the kids go nuts making a mother's day mural as a back drop to the celebration.  Provide crayons instead of paint to keep things clean.
6- Tried and true picture frame:  Most of us have ugly picture frames lying around the house.  Provide each child with one, and let them create an "I love my mommy" personalized frame.  Cover with fabric or tissue paper, paint, sticky jewels, etc.  Let the child choose which photo they want to put in the frame, and be sure to display it in a prominent place in the house. 

7- Garden Stepping Stone or Pet Rock:  If you have a garden, let the kids create personalized stepping stones using rocks.  Paint the child's name across the rock and give them a chance to decorate it using paint.  No garden?  No big rocks?  Create pet rocks using small stones.  Paint two eyes and a big grin, and let the kid decorate the using permanent markers or paint for older children.  For little kids, my go to is always stickers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

In the interest of getting back into shape, I have decided to combine my goal to lose weight and get fit with one of my longtime goals of running 5K.  I've downloaded a free running program designed to get my booty off the couch and on the road running 5K in two months.  We'll see how that goes. 

I'm a little concerned about doing this by myself, because if I'm being honest, I don't always have the most motivation in the world when it comes to exercise.  I'm hoping that the program, which combines a mixture of walking and jogging over the period of the program will help ease my body into being able to handle the challenge.  I've tried running before, but I've never been able to run long distances with any success. 

This has always been something I've wanted to overcome.

I'm terrified of putting this out there because I'm afraid that I might fail in my attempt, but I refuse to allow that fear to stop me from trying.  So, my intention is to document my progress periodically on this site.  Hopefully there will actually be progress to report!

This also means that I have to find three days a week to give myself at least 30 minutes to exercise.  That alone time in itself might be all the motivation I need to continue!

If there's anyone out there who is looking for some online motivation to start/continue with a running program, let me know!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Aftermath of Being Gluten-ed

On Tuesday, my son was fed a quarter of a slice of bread at the daycare centre he goes to three days a week.  A staff member served it to him accidentally.  Click here to read the post.  Yesterday morning when I posted, he had already had one diarrhea before heading off to daycare, and I posted that I hoped that would be the end of it.  Knowing all along, that of course it wouldn't.

The thing with being gluten-ed, as I like to refer to his ingesting gluten, is that unlike an allergy where the reaction is often almost immediate, the effects of gluten drag out over several days.  With my son, it usually begins with a rash, and progresses from there.  He has been on a prescription anti-allergic for the past few weeks, so the rash was suppressed, but the rest of the effects began strongly yesterday, and have carried into today.

Yesterday at daycare he had diarrhea that was so bad the staff had to change his entire outfit.  His eyes watered and his nose was stuffed, and he began to drool from breathing through his mouth.

Then there is his behaviour.  The gluten exposure changes his behaviour drastically.  He becomes whiny and defiant, unhappy about everything.  He was so whiny last night we finally just put him to bed.

This morning it was more of the same.  He stays home with me on Thursdays, and this morning he refused to participate at all in his mom-and-tot class, lying on the floor and rolling a truck back and forth for over 30 minutes.  The rest of the time he just wanted to be on my lap, watching the other children play.  Normally he sings and does crafts, playing with his friends.

Additionally, his appetite goes off the charts since nutrients aren't being absorbed.  Today, he ate a bowl of gluten free cereal, a gluten free waffle, a banana and two cups of rice milk for breakfast, followed by 1 cup of strawberries, another banana, a sandwich bag full of veggie chips and two packages of fruit gummies for his morning snack.  Then an entire box of fish sticks for lunch, followed by soy yogurt.  He's only two years old.  He gets so hungry he begins to cry and beg for food, something he normally never does.

All by noon.

This of course was interrupted by another bowel movement so horrendous that it was both up his back and down his legs, soiling even his socks, not to mention his shirt, his pants, his arm, my jeans, our couch and the floor.  As soon as I got that cleaned up and a new diaper on, it happened a second time.

All this because of 1/4 of a slice of bread, two days ago.

I'm so angry I could spit.  And heartbroken that my baby is suffering needlessly.  It wasn't a case of incorrect labeling, or a misunderstanding, or accidental cross-contamination in a prepared dish.  It was a result of carelessness on the part of the people I pay to care for my son.  An accident, but a careless, unnecessary one that should have been prevented.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

With the munchkin, April 2011
Update on the gluten situation from yesterday's post:  He's been on a strong anti-allergic, so the usual rash didn't appear except for  a little on his face.  He was uncomfortable and bloated, but other than the one diarrhea, so far so good.  It usually takes about a day, so we'll see how today goes!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Answer Calls From the Daycare with Dread

This afternoon I received one of the dreaded daycare phone calls:  My son had ingested something containing gluten.

I know that these things happen, but sometimes the call annoys me more than other times.  Particularly when the contamination was completely avoidable.

Like today.

At the beginning, when they were still feeding him and trying to accommodate his needs, sometimes there was confusion on their part about which foods were safe, particularly when one brand is safe and another isn't.

Sometimes, there was cross-contamination from utensils, toasters, counter tops, etc.

So, in an effort to cut that out, I began providing all of his food in reheat-able containers to avoid the cross-contamination.

Still, the children eat together at tables.  Sometimes my son grabs for something he wants off someone's plate and shoves it in his mouth quickly.  I don't want him sitting at a table alone, but he's only two and so doesn't always understand why he can't eat everything that his friends eat. These things happen.

I know there are crumbs that may go astray, residue from playdoh paints that contain wheat that may somehow end up on his fingers or in his mouth.

But today..... today a staff member served him bread.  And then someone realized what had happened.  After he had shoved the piece in his mouth and eaten it.

So when I saw their number on the phone, I dreaded picking it up.  They only ever call when he's sick or when he's ingested gluten.  When I asked if he had grabbed the bread from someone's plate the response was "No.  Someone served it to him."

I think I said OH.

I like the people who are in charge of my son's particular room, and they are generally quite vigilant, but there have been more than a few incidents of cross contamination.  Most of the time when a "floater" or a replacement cook has somehow cross-contaminated his meal.

But that's not my son's fault.

The daycare has a printout (11 pages) of acceptable and unacceptable foods.

They have instructions on how to avoid cross-contamination.

They have all been briefed on what my son can and cannot eat, and how to avoid cross-contamination.
Tonight, there was only one diarrhea before bedtime.  I'm hoping that's the end of it.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Well folks, today is the day- the Federal Election.  The day you get to do what people around the world are dying, literally, to do- vote in a peaceful election.  Please don't take that right for granted.  Cast a ballot, have an impact on the election and on the shape of government in your country.  Don't let someone else decide for you who you want to represent your interests in Parliament. 

Take a gluten free snack along in case there's a line-up, and go exercise your democratic right.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

 Monday: Beef and Veggie Kebabs, Spanish Rice

Tuesday: Strawberry Chicken Salad with Walnuts, Steamed Broccoli 
and Cauliflower in a herb butter dressing
(I chopped and prepared the salad ingredients, they just need to be assembled on the bed of spinach.  The broccoli and cauliflower I'll prepare Tuesday)

 Wednesday: Coconut Curry Soup, Steamed Rice, Mango Salad
and Beef Rolls
(Mango Salad ingredients, prepped and ready to go.  The rice is ready, just the coconut broth and the beef rolls to go)

 Thursday: Vegetable Soup,  Gluten Free Pasta Primavera   
The soup is still cooking, so forgive the photo.  Gluten free pasta I generally make the day I want to eat it, because it doesn't keep as long as wheat pasta.

Friday: Leftover Vegetable Soup, Chicken drumsticks and mixed