Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five List: Thesis Writing

This week flew by kind of quickly, and the weekend is packed before it even begins.  Tomorrow is a long day of thesis writing.  Here are the five things I'm going to need to get me through the day:

1- Coffee, and lots of it.

2- Sweats, comfy socks and a comfortable chair.

3- Classical music.  I like listening to music when I write, but music with lyrics distract me.  Classical is the way to go.

4- A large table.  The neat piles I start out with have a way of spreading over the course of the day.

5- An empty house.  My husband and my son are going to spend some quality time together so I can get some work done. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 Goals Update

Well the end of the month is upon us, and my thoughts as always turn towards the goals I set out at the beginning of the year.  Here's how this month shaped up...

With the welcome addition of a full time pay cheque, we're finally able to start updating some things around the house.  Our family room is the first room on our list.  It's time for our hand-me-down couch and large, non-flat screen TV to go.  I could go on, but suffice it to say that I can't wait to finally have a family room that's comfortable, modern, and not embarrassing to entertain in.

Academically, there's finally a tentative date set for my defense, pending my ability to submit the changes to my paper in a timely fashion.  I foresee my husband and son spending some quality time together during a weekend in the near future.

One of my goals was to spend more quality time with friends and family, and September has been a great month for that.  The street party gave me a chance to hang out with my neighbours.  Being back at work reconnected me with colleagues I hadn't seen in a while.  A birthday party for the son of a friend provided an opportunity to see some of my husband's work friends that I hadn't seen since last year.

Health wise, being back at work has helped me be more active.  I'm on my feet most of the day, and I've been doing a lot of walking.  I've tried to have a smoothie for breakfast every day, and I've been bringing my lunch as well.  Hopefully I can keep this up...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet for My Family

This post brought to you by Reader's Digest Canada.

About a year ago, my son began getting sick. 

He experienced watery bowel movements, sinus infections, skin rashes, and rapid weight loss.

He began losing chunks of hair and had large, dark circles under his eyes.



He also alternated between extreme lethargy and almost out of control temper tantrums.



He had low Vitamin D and Iron levels, and was extremely dehydrated.  When the doctor tried to get a urine sample, it was hours before he passed any urine, despite the copious amounts of water we were feeding him.  It was all being expelled as diarrhea.

After multiple tests to rule out parasites or other illnesses  that children are prone to picking up at daycare, I mentioned to my doctor that a relative of my mother's had Celiac disease.  Normally, a patient is instructed to continue ingesting gluten until they are tested for Celiac disease.  Due to my son's young age, severe symptoms and rapid weight loss, our doctor suggested that we try him on a gluten free diet immediately to see if it made any difference.

The effects were astonishing.

Within a few days, his energy returned and his behaviour went back to normal.  The temper tantrums that had left both of us in tears had vanished.  His skin rash began to subside and his bowel movements took on a more normal colour and consistency.

Our next check up at the doctor's office showed that he had gained all his weight back and was again within a healthy range for his age.  The circles under his eyes lightened and his hair was getting thicker. He became a happy little boy again.

Fast forward to a year later...our eating habits have been completely overhauled.



We know that our son will probably need to be on a gluten free diet for the rest of his life.  He's been accidentally cross-contaminated a few times, particularly in the beginning when we were still figuring things out, and the reactions were always severe and prolonged.  He can suffer diarrhea for up to two weeks after just a few bites of something containing gluten.  

What are the benefits of a gluten free diet for my family?

For the sake of simplicity and to minimize the risk of cross-contamination, our house is a gluten free zone.  I didn't want my son to feel left out, and I was determined to provide him with a varied diet of delicious, healthy recipes that were also gluten free. 

Ensuring that my son gets enough iron, fiber, vitamins and other essential nutrients from his food made me more conscious of what I was putting in my cart at the supermarket and helped steer me to less processed foods.  Many prepackaged foods contain gluten in some form, so they were easy to eliminate.  Gluten free substitutes are sometimes available, but the higher cost led me to purchase those items sparingly.

Instead, I prepare most of our food from scratch.  Simple dishes, made with fresh ingredients.  Tons of fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds (such as quinoa) and grains, lean meats, fish and other sources of protein make up the bulk of our diet, with a few packaged treats on occasion.

I began cooking for the week on Sundays because I found it too difficult to come up with new meal ideas on the spot, and didn't want to rely on the same few standbys.  Curious about what a gluten free menu plan looks like?  Check out my Menu Plans tab and access every plan I've posted since the beginning of the year.
I signed up for a weekly produce delivery from a local food share provider, and from June to October get a variety of local produce delivered to my front door.  

Is going gluten free easy? 

Not always, and certainly not at first.  When I first downloaded a list of which foods are likely to contain gluten, I sat and stared at the eleven page printout in disbelief.  We've made mistakes, and sometimes fed our son something that made him sick.  Eating out was terrifying at first, and trying new restaurants still involves a great deal of research and questioning to ensure that the experience won't result in our son getting sick.  We never leave the house without "safe" snacks, and often get funny looks from strangers at social gatherings when we don't feed our son what everyone else is having.

But since it keeps my son healthy and safe, it's all worth it.



Reader's Digest Canada provides readers with information on healthy living, including information on the gluten free diet. They asked me if I would write about how a gluten free diet has had a positive impact on my family.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Croutons (Gluten and Dairy Free)

There are many ways to prepare a thick and hearty butternut squash soup.  This is just one version I like to make.  Roasting the squash first adds another layer of flavour and removes the need for too many additional ingredients.  This recipes serves 4.



Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed
1 cooking onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter substitute
4-6 cups gluten free chicken stock
1/4 tspn. nutmeg
1/4 tspn. cinnamon
1/4 tspn. thyme or sage
salt and pepper to taste
Gluten free croutons for garnish

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F

1. Grease or line a baking dish and arrange squash cut side down.  Prick with a fork and place in preheated oven.  Cook until skin begins to pucker and flesh is soft.  Set aside and let cool.

2. While squash is cooling, heat olive oil in soup pot.  Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are completely soft.  Add 4 cups of chicken stock, nutmeg, cinnamon and dried herbs. 

3. Remove skin from squash and place flesh in the soup.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Cook for approx. 20 min., until squash breaks down further and flavours are blended. 

4.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth, adding more stock if necessary.  I like my soup thick, but more stock can be added for a thinner consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve in warm bowls with croutons for garnish. 

*** If you are not dairy free, some cream can be stirred into the soup at the end for a richer consistency.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan



Monday: Pork Shoulder Steak with Homemade Apple Sauce, Mushrooms and Peas  




 Tuesday: Butternut Squash Soup w/Gluten Free Croutons









Wednesday: Oven Baked Ribs, Roast Potatoes and Salad  








Thursday: Sopa Azteca (Tomato & Chicken Soup) with Tortilla Chips & Lime 








Friday: Meatloaf & Vegetables (This is an old photo.  I have a frozen meatloaf I'll thaw the night before.) 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Super Saturday!

Swimming lessons, four loads of laundry, gluten free cupcakes, gift wrapping, a birthday party and some work from home equals one hectic Saturday.  Sunday's not looking much slower either. 

So for now, I'll finish watching the movie I was too exhausted to finish last night, perhaps read a few more pages of my book, and hit the hay before midnight. 

I hope you're making the most of your Saturday!  Menu plan goes up tomorrow!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five List: Rainy Day Edition

It's the first day of fall and the rain has been relentless all day.  I like the rain (when the temperatures are warm and it's not not the stinging, freezing kind), but as adults we sometimes lose the love many of us had for it as children.  When I picked up my son from daycare this afternoon, he reminded me how much fun the rain can be.  Here are my five ideas for enjoying the rain with kids!

1- Put on your rubber boots, throw on a raincoat and go jump in some puddles!  My son began jumping in a small puddle in on our driveway when I took him out of the car, and rather than try and quickly usher him into the house, I decided to join him.  My shoes are soaked, but my son's giggle fit when he saw me puddle jump was worth it.

2- Take some pictures.  Most children's cameras are waterproof, so get outside and take some pictures of raindrops on leaves, the clouds, puddles, or whatever else catches your eye.

3- As long as there's no risk of lightning, go for a walk.  No, I'm not crazy.  Rubber boots, raincoats and umbrellas offer plenty of protection against the rain, and kids love getting wet anyway.  A walk around the block, or a trek through a park or the woods allows kids to explore their world in a new way.


4- Bake up some gluten free goodies and watch the rain through the window.  My son loves to help me in the kitchen, and a rainy day is the perfect excuse to try out those recipes I otherwise never seem to find the time to try. 

5- Build a fort or pitch a tent.  Line the floor with blankets, pull out some books, or puzzles and games, and "camp out" in your living room.  Don't forget to bring along a snack.  Perhaps some of those baked goods that just came out of the oven?

Rainy days are good excuses to keep things low key, low tech and simple.  Bake some cookies, play some games and enjoy the sound of the rain on the roof.  Pretty soon, that rain will be snow.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Product Review: El Peto Italian Style Hamburger Buns

A few weeks ago we had homemade tuna burgers for dinner and tried out these hamburger buns.  I picked El Peto buns to try because I haven't tried too many El Peto products before and thought it would be nice to try something new, from a Canadian company.  I also liked that there are 8 buns in a package, while most other brands only contained 6 per pack, for a similar price.  Like many gluten free baked goods, they need to be kept frozen until needed for use.




The frozen bun doesn't look too appealing, but to be fair, neither do most frozen gluten free products.

Frozen hamburger bun  

Although the buns can simply be thawed to eat, I liked them better toasted.  Toasting the buns gave them a nice crispy texture on the outside and a soft inside.  The texture is denser than a regular hamburger bun, but the taste was decent.  They held up well to the tuna burgers, without crumbling under the pressure of the burger and toppings.



I waited a while before writing this review for a few reasons.  The first reason is that I've never tried a gluten free hamburger bun before, so I don't have anything to compare it against.  The second reason is that I tested these with homemade tuna burgers rather than regular, commercially produced beef burgers, which are typically much larger than the little burgers I make at home. 

If you take a close look at the picture below, you'll see that the burger doesn't fill the whole diameter of the bun.  Still, I feel that the buns are a bit smaller than the average burger bun.  We still have four buns left, so the next plan is to put a bigger burger in there and see how it goes.


Overall, this is a good substitute for a regular hamburger bun.  It looks similar, if a touch smaller and much denser, but the flavour was pretty good.  My husband liked them better than I did, but I enjoyed them enough that I'm looking forward to trying them again with a burger I didn't have to make from scratch!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Daycare Update: Week Three

Well, unless anything substantial changes, this is the last daycare update I'll write for a while.  The truth is, my son has adjusted much better than expected to the new location.  He's even saying a few words in French at home.  Last night when we were talking about his day at the new centre, he said "I'm happy now Mommy", which both broke my heart and made me so thankful that we had gone through with the move despite all of our concerns about disrupting his routine.

When I pick him up from daycare now, he runs over to say hi, and then tries to just go back to what he was doing.  He also informs me frequently that  he's making "new friends", and then asks about them on weekends. 

As for the food, so far so good.  I've been asking about his meals- he's been eating hamburgers on gluten free buns, fish, gluten free pasta, chicken, corn, watermelon, peaches, and much, much more.  We still provide his snacks, but it's nice to know that his meals look like what the other children are eating every day. 

Crossing my fingers that the trend continues!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apple Picking at Pine Farms Orchard


On Saturday I fulfilled one of my Fall Friday Five list items and took my son apple picking.  As soon as the sun came out on Saturday morning, we packed up our son and headed out to the orchard.  We decided to try Pine Farms Orchard, in King, Ontario, because it's close to home.  What's more, admission is free. 

The farm's general store and café

An employee greeted us at the entrance and asked if there was a specific type of apple we were looking to pick, and since I wanted Macintosh and Spy, he sent us to rows 72-76.  The farm has over 5 000 trees, and a dirt road winds around the rows.  We drove our car to the set of rows we were looking for, parked on the side, and walked up and down the rows, picking apples.  Each row is labeled with the apple variety.


What makes this particular farm an excellent choice for children (and short people like me) is that the trees are all dwarf varieties!  That means that they're only around six feet tall, so they don't require ladders for picking.  In fact, the fruit grows low enough that even my son could pick apples without anyone needing to pick him up to reach!



At first I was worried that the fruit wouldn't be the same size as that from regular trees, but nope, full size apples!
They looked so yummy and juicy, my son couldn't resist and ate two "baby" apples while my husband and I were still picking.


After filling two very large bags with apples and paying for them, we stopped by the small playground area and let my son expend some energy before enjoying a snack purchased from the gift shop.  The pies were obviously off limits, but the candy apples were gluten free and apparently, delicious!



He also found the time to make a new friend.


I would highly recommend this place for anyone looking for a spot to apple pick in the Greater Toronto Area, especially those with young children.  It doesn't have a bunch of bells and whistles, but it doesn't need them.  We spent about two hours there, and my son was happy and entertained the whole time, surrounded by nature.  

The café is also worth mentioning.  They sell homemade pies and pastries, as well as homemade soups and lunch plates.  The pastries and pies are not gluten free, but they looked delicious!  To be honest, my son was happily chomping down on his candy apple, so we didn't ask about GF options in the cafe.  My husband and I each enjoyed a take out soup (they served it in coffee cups for us to enjoy outside).  I had a butternut squash soup, and my husband enjoyed a Thai coconut curry soup.  Both were delicious! 

This will definitely become a yearly tradition!

Pine Farms Orchard
2700 16th Sideroad
King, Ontario L7B 1A3
(905) 833-5459

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Our neighbours have a zucchini plant that's grown over the fence into our yard, and I couldn't be more thrilled about it.  Why?  Because we get to keep the ones that grow on our side!  This week I picked two huge zucchinis, and there are at least 3 more growing.
I included a zucchini gratin recipe in this week's menu plan, and I plan on making another one to freeze.  I also hope to make some zucchini muffins some time this week or next weekend.  The rest I'll freeze.  I'll probably donate one from the next batch to a family member or friend, along with a recipe or two!

Here's what we're eating at my house this week.



Monday:  Tomato Soup & Sandwiches 









 Tuesday:  Gluten Free Pasta Shells with Tuna, Cherry Tomatoes, and Zucchini







Wednesday: Gluten Free Chicken Fingers and Mashed Potatoes  












Thursday: Warm Steak Salad with Zucchini Gratin  (I undercooked the gratin a little bit so that when I put it back in the oven to heat, the gluten free breadcrumbs will toast and the goat's cheese will melt).  The steak I'll cook Thursday.






Friday: Macaroni and Cheese (I used goat's milk and cheese, but this recipe could be made with dairy  substitutes.)   I took this photo after it had cooled, but when hot, the cheese is gooey and delicious!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Freaking out over a piece of furniture

We did go apple picking today, and I was planning to write about it tonight, but then we bought a piece of furniture. 

That we are putting together as I write. 

It was intended to serve as a TV bench/storage space for toys. 

It's beautiful. 

But it's huge.  And now I'm freaking out that maybe it's too huge.  It doesn't help that we have yet to remove our old TV stand, or the storage table that currently holds toys, or the side table with the lamp....  but still. 

When all is said and done I'll take a photo and you can be the judge.

But for now I need to get back to putting it together. 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the weekly gluten free menu plan.  I'll get to the apple picking on Monday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Five List: Fall Activities

I'm looking forward to this fall, because I can't wait to introduce my son to all the great activities the season has to offer.  Last September was when my son's reactions to gluten started becoming serious, and he was sick and losing weight at an alarming rate, not to mention getting recurring sinus infections and alternating between lethargy and out of control temper tantrums. 

What a difference a year makes.  He's now healthy, strong and happy.

Perfect for the outdoorsy types of activities that fall weather is perfect for.  Here are 5 things I'm looking forward to experiencing with my son this year.

1- Apple Picking:  We're actually planning on going this weekend if it doesn't rain.  What better way to get kids involved in eating healthy food than letting them see where it comes from?  The last time we went, Etienne was just a baby.  This time he'll be able to pick his own!


2- Fall Fairs:  Some of my best childhood memories are from the fall fair that was held every September in the little town where I grew up.  I love everything about them- the history, the traditions, the homemade food and crafts.  I hope my son grows up with some good memories of his own.  Last year we took him to a few, but he was too sick to stay for long.


3- Exploring the Changing Leaves:  One of the best part of the changing seasons is that the landscape is constantly evolving.  A drive north to see the colours of the changing leaves, a walk through the trees and a picnic lunch makes for a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

4- Thanksgiving:  In Canada, Thanksgiving falls in early October.  Turkey season is almost upon us.  This year I'm going to attempt a gluten free stuffing from scratch.  I may even try a gluten free pumpkin pie! 
This year Etienne will be a part of the action!
Last year's Thanksgiving

 5- Halloween:  Looking forward to creating some simple Halloween crafts with my little one, and decorating the house with pumpkins and cobwebs!  I wonder what costume I'll find for him this year?
Last year- my little penguin!  Note the runny nose...




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Late Night at Work = Quick and Easy Lunch. Oh, and it's Gluten Free Too!

Tonight I was at work late.  The school hosted an event for parents, and I was at work until 8:30pm.  Maybe it's because I'm tired, but as I'm thinking about packing my lunch for tomorrow, the leftovers in my fridge aren't calling my name.  I could go out for lunch, but I'd rather just bring something along from home that I know is fresh and healthy. 

So what's a girl to do? 

Cheat.

Enter Campbell's canned soup.

My son doesn't generally eat canned soup because a) they're rarely gluten free, and b) making soup is one of the simplest things to cook, so I usually make them myself.  However, I do generally keep a few cans on hand for days like this- when I'm too lazy to cook but too picky to eat what's already prepared in the fridge. 

When my son's gluten issues first came to light, I was overwhelmed at first.  I didn't even know that specialty gluten free brands of food existed, so I looked to the old standards to see what would be safe. 

Campbell's soup turned out to be a big help in the beginning.  Not every flavour is gluten free, but the ones that are list it right on the can, highlighted in red within a larger green box.  In fact, the Campbell's website states that they are a member of the Canadian Celiac Association.  To view their Gluten Free FAQs, click HERE.  Curious to see a product list?  Click HERE.  Be sure to check back regularly for their most updated list.



The can I have on hand is Tomato with Basil and Oregano. 

How is this going to help me make tomorrow's lunch? 

Easy.

I'm going to heat it in a pot, add in a few handfuls of leftover cooked rice, chop up some leftover chicken and throw in a cup of frozen veggies until heated through.  Quick, easy, and healthy.  A few gluten free crackers thrown in for good measure

I'm looking forward to lunch already!

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Look what I found growing in my garden!  I didn't think I'd actually get any eggplants.  YAY!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy National Celiac Awareness Day!

September 13th has been dedicated Celiac Awareness Day in the United States.    

Why?  Especially when May is Celiac Awareness month? 

Dr. Samuel Gee. 

Who? 

I'm glad you asked. 

He's the doctor who is credited with being a pioneer in celiac research.  Specifically, he made the link between celiac disease and diet.

And today is his birthday.

Thanks in large part to this man, those suffering from this illness were provided with a means of taking greater control of their health and well-being through the observance of a strict gluten free diet. 

Three cheers for Dr. Gee!

So, let's not let this opportunity go to waste.  Take a few minutes today to educate someone about celiac disease and gluten intolerance.  In North America, it takes on average 10 years for someone to receive an accurate diagnosis.  Let's increase awareness and help lower that number. 

Send out a tweet, post it on facebook, or mention it on your blog. 

And enjoy a yummy gluten free treat while you're at it! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Most Crayola and Elmer's Products Gluten Free

Looking for arts and crafts products for my son to use at his new daycare has been a bit of an ordeal, especially since most non-food products do not contain an ingredient list.  Mot simply indicate whether or not they are non-toxic, and leave it at that. 

So I took to the internet, and checked out the manufacturer websites.  I was frustrated at first at the lack of information available on most sites, but Crayola and Elmer's both had statements regarding the presence of wheat and gluten in their products.

For Crayola's statement, click HERE.  Crayola's products are free from most of the top allergens, including dairy, nuts and eggs.  As for gluten, the site specifically states that Crayola Dough contains wheat and is therefore not gluten free.  However, it does state that other products are gluten free, including the Modeling Clay.  It does not specifically state that ALL other products are safe.  My son's daycare makes their own dough using flour, so now I can bring along an alternative for my son without worry.  We also picked up some of their finger paints. 

Elmer's was also a company with a statement on their FAQ page.  Click HERE to see the page.  Specifically, it states that ALL of Elmer's products are gluten free, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF their finger paints.  So I picked up some school glue as a replacement to the flour based glue at the daycare.

The stress of not only being concerned about what goes in my son's mouth but also what touch es his skin can be tough sometimes.  Not being able to make an informed decision about what I purchase for my child due to a lack of information is frustrating.  I don't expect every brand to be gluten free, but I would at least like to know if the product I want to buy is safe for my child or not. 

Simply by providing me with that information on their websites, Crayola and Elmer's have gained a new, loyal customer.  Wasn't that easy?




Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Gluten Free Menu Plan

Well, this week I took a chance and tried to make gluten free fish and chips.  After researching more recipes than I care to admit, I realized that most of them contained much the same ingredients that a biscuit or pancake mix might have.  Since my goal is to cook as quickly and simply as possible, I broke out the bag of gluten free biscuit mix I had sitting in my cupboard, and used it to help create the batter.  No fiddling with xanthan gum, baking powder, etc.  And I'm quite happy with the results.  See for yourself!




 Monday: Gluten Free Fish & Chips 










Tuesday: Chicken Souvlaki with Rice & Steamed Vegetables 










Wednesday: Pizza with Mushrooms, Olives, Artichoke Hearts & Crumbled Goat's Cheese 






Thursday: Shepherd's Pie (This is already made and frozen.  I just need to take it out the night before and let it defrost.) 




Friday: Minestrone Soup, Romaine Salad and Shepherd's Pie leftovers






Happy Eating!  Don't forget to check out the Menu Plan tab at the top of the page to see my Gluten Free Menu Plans for previous weeks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Goodbye Summer...

This weekend is shaping up to be beautiful, with warm temperatures and clear, sunny skies.  Having a date night scheduled with my husband is like the icing on the (gluten free) cake!  How have we spent our day? 

 Preparing for fall. 

We finished painting the garage door, bought some fall mums to replace the dying fall blooms and prepared the flower garden in the front for a fresh covering of mulch.

We also went shopping.  I got a great pair of cords that will be perfect when the temperature dips later this week (the forecast calls for lower than normal temperatures by Thursday.  Ugh.)  I also bought a gorgeous grey Kenneth Cole jacket at Winners.  Maybe I won't mind the cooler temperatures so much after all...

Anyway, as I enjoy a great weekend of warm weather, I can't resist posting a few late summer photos as I look forward to all that fall has to offer.  The return of football.  Halloween.  Thanksgiving.  Pumpkins.  Brightly coloured leaves.  Warm sweaters and soft fabrics. 

So as I anticipate the arrival of fall, here are a few of my memories of the summer of 2011.


Taking a break from the challenge of finishing that popsicle

Who needs a chair when there's a beach?

The many, many boxes of tomatoes we canned for sauce

Just chillin' at the cottage with his cousin.  The drink holders in their chairs kill me.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Five List: First Week Back At Work Edition

This was my first proper week back at work, after being away for two and a half years.  Much has stayed the same, but a few things have changed!

1- I am no longer one of the "young ones".  Marriage moved me to the edge of that category, but having a baby solidified it.  Younger teachers are now coming to me for advice, rather than the other way around.  This is both exciting and terrifying!

2- Before I went on leave, a few teachers would bring their own laptops to work.  When I arrived this week, almost everyone had one out in the workroom.

3- I can no longer wear heels of any height all day, every day.  I now have "sensible shoes" that probably add another 10 years to my age, but I don't care because they're comfortable.

4- I also can no longer survive on coffee and air if I forget my lunch at home.  I actually drove home one day this week to pick up my forgotten lunch.

5- I look forward to the weekends for different reasons now.  Gone are the the Friday and Saturday nights at the club.  They've been replaced by sidewalk chalk on the driveway and a walk to the park. 

Have a great weekend.  I'll be posting tomorrow and putting up the Menu Plan on Sunday!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Daycare Transition: Day 3

Not to jinx things, but so far, so good.  My son's been really brave in the mornings, with only a quivering lower lip to indicate he's unhappy about my leaving for work and  dropping him off at the daycare for the day. 

By the time I arrive to pick him up in the afternoon, everything is great.  Today he didn't even want to leave. 
"Come mommy, come play with me" he said over his shoulder as he trotted back to the carpet to continue what he was doing before I arrived.  I got him to leave by promising that we could return to the daycare tomorrow! 

As for the food, he's enjoyed chicken, rice and vegetables, and even some gluten free bread as part of his daily delivered lunch.  We're still providing his snacks from home.  Fingers crossed that this continues to work.

The only thing we need to do now is provide separate paint, modeling clay, and glue.  The centre makes their own clay and glue using flour, and the paint also includes wheat ingredients.  Since I want him to participate in all the activities, I'll be buying some alternatives this weekend and bringing them in for Monday. 

This has really made my transition to work much less stressful than I had anticipated.  I only hope that this isn't the calm before the storm...


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to Reality!

Sometimes, even after a long absence, you return to a place to find that it's almost as though you'd never left.  Today was one of those days.  A lot has changed at my place of work in the few years that I've been on leave, but many of the core people are still there, and I found it oddly simple to slip back into the swing of things. 

But my feet hurt.  And I have a feeling I'll be tired tomorrow morning.

And as I watched the kids pick up their burgers at the back to school BBQ, I got to thinking about how difficult it would be for those who are gluten free to always be left out of participating in those types of events.

Sigh.

Thankfully for my son, today's gluten free meal at the daycare went over well.  The daycare provider was surprised at his appetite.  I was pleased to hear that he enjoyed the gluten free meal that was provided. 

Let's hope tomorrow's meal goes over just as well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Recipe: Cock-a-Leekie Soup (Chicken & Leek Soup)

The traditional version of this soup is Scottish in origin, with many regional variations in preparation.  Some versions feature barley, but to make it gluten free, rice could be added instead.  I actually prefer mine without the rice, so the recipe below doesn't list it as an ingredient.  If you want to add rice to your soup, add 1/4- 1/3 cup of it during Step #3, and cook until rice is cooked through or add already cooked rice at the end.

Ingredients
1 chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces (leave skin and bones, they'll be removed later)
1 onion, quartered                                                   2 carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered + celery leaves                 1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled & lightly crushed         10 peppercorns
1/4 tsp. dried thyme                                                Pinch nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock or broth                                  1 lb. potatoes (about 4) peeled & diced
2 leeks, white parts sliced + green parts separate      Juice from 1/4 lemon
salt & pepper                                                          1/2 cup dairy free cream or milk (optional)

Directions: 
1- Wash and prepare chicken and vegetables.  In a large soup pot, place chicken pieces, onion, carrot, celery stalks & leaves, garlic cloves, bay leaf, peppercorns, green parts of leeks, thyme & marjoram, and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil & cover.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork (approx. 40-50 min.).  If any foam rises to the surface, skim off and discard.

2- When cooked through, remove chicken pieces and set aide to cool.  Strain the stock into a large bowl.  Discard the vegetables and return the stock to the pot. 

3- Add the sliced white parts of leeks and potatoes.  Simmer until potatoes are soft.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup leaving some chunky pieces of potato. 

4- By this point, the chicken would be cool enough to handle.  Remove skin and discard.  Pull meat from bones, shredding into bite sized pieces.  Discard bones.  Return shredded chicken to pot.

5- If using cream or dairy free substitute, add now and stir to blend.  Add lemon juice & nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with some chopped parsley if desired.  Some grated Parmesan cheese is also nice on top if you're not dairy free.