Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan: Cottage Week #2

Sorry about the late posting, but there were some serious rainstorms here last week and the internet was down for a few days.  Here's what we're enjoying at the cottage this week!

Monday:  Homemade Chicken and Beef Burgers on Kinnikinnick Buns with Coleslaw

Tuesday:  BBQ Ribs with Potato Salad and Grilled Pineapple

Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Chicken on a Bed of Steamed Rice

Thursday:  Pork Chops & Broccoli Salad

Friday:  Grilled Homemade Sausages and any leftover salads

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

View of the Cottage from the Dock


Feet up....somebody needs to build a fire!

Sunset over the Lake

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kinnikinnick Hamburger Buns

What would cottage living be without a big, juicy hamburger?  As important as the burger itself, the bun seals the deal.  For those who are gluten free, finding a hamburger bun that's the right size and texture, not to mention that actually tastes like a hamburger bun can be a challenge. 

Not anymore! 

Kinnikinnick Hamburger Buns are my new go-to bun for burgers.  Previously, we were using El Peto buns because they were the only ones I could find, and while they did the job, they weren't comparable to a regular bun. 

Kinnikinnick Hamburger Bun


The Kinnikinnick buns really impressed me with their size and texture.  Large enough to handle a regular sized burger, they look almost indistinguishable from regular hamburger buns.  Not to mention the fact that they have the same soft texture and a taste that is hard to distinguish from their gluten filled counterparts.  They also have 5g of fibre per bun, which is more than most regular or gluten free brands offer. 

We had these buns with both beef and chicken burgers, and they were delicious!  The bun held up to the burgers and all the condiments, not falling apart or becoming soggy.

These are definitely our new favourite hamburger buns!


As you can see, the bun is BIGGER than the burger!!!






Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan: Cottage Edition Week #1

This week I'm up at a cottage with my sister and parents, so the eating is laid back and relaxed.  My sister and I created a simple menu for the week that is easy to put together and takes little time to prepare. 

For lunches, we've got a variety of cold items to choose from:  tuna salad, egg salad, cold cuts and cheese slices, wraps, chopped veggies and sliced fruit.  No hassle, no cooking required. 

Here are our dinner plans for the week:

Sunday:  Grilled Potato and Sausage Salad with Asparagus, Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Grilled Pineapple

Monday:  Grilled Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks with Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Salad

Tuesday:  Vegetarian Stir Fry

Wednesday:  Chicken/Steak Fajitas and Veggie Kebabs on the BBQ

Thursday:  Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce

Friday:  Homemade Beef and Chicken Burgers, Baked Potatoes on the Fire and a Garden Salad

Saturday:  Quinoa Salad and Leftovers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gluten Free at Canada's Wonderland!

A few weeks ago, my son began asking to go to Canada's Wonderland, after a few of his daycare friendstold him about their visits.  We hadn't planned on taking him this summer, since I can't exactly make it through an entire day of walking around the park and going on rides, so I was thrilled when my sister offered to take him along with her and her daughter.  My son was excited, and kept talking about the trip all week. 

For those unfamiliar with Wonderland, it's a huge amusement park in Ontario, Canada, with one of Canada's largest roller coasters.  It has a waterpark, various rollercoasters and rides, and a kids area.  All great fun for kids and adults of all ages. 

For the mother of a kid with dietary restrictions, they also have an unfortunate no outside foods policy.  There are several food options within the park, but since most are fast food type joints, I was worried about what exactly my son would eat.  So, like anyone familiar with food restrictions, I did some research.

The Canada's Wonderland website has a comprehensive section on special dietary needs.  They do preface it by saying that they cannot guarantee separation of food preparation surfaces due to the high volume of visitors, which is something to consider depending on where you choose to eat.  There are quite a few food outlets listed with gluten and/or dairy free options, including a few in the kids area, which was a nice surprise.  However, most items are either french fries or desserts, so there's still much room for improvement.  On the plus side, patrons with dietary restrictions are encouraged to email guest services to get more information and to help make arrangements for eating at the park. 

A phone call revealed that they were willing to make an exception to the food rule and the representative was quite willing to work out a solution for us.  I wrote a note outlining my son's medical food restrictions (gluten and dairy), and they allowed my sister to bring in a small bag of snacks for him to round out the meal choices available.  Nothing huge, just some cut up fruit and a few other things, but it was a nice gesture on the part of park officials to show some empathy and make our lives a little easier.  After inquiring about food preparation, my sister also bought him some french fries as a treat and a popsicle for dessert.  He was happy, she was confident that what he was eating was safe, and I was relieved that his dietary restrictions weren't an issue, and he could happily eat with everyone else. 

I was really happy with the service the park provided.  While I wish there were more gluten free food options available, I was impressed by how simple it was to find information regarding available options and to plan our visit accordingly.  Staff was helpful and accommodating, and my sister wasn't given a hard time at the gate.  Overall, a success! 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

In light of my busy weekend, I chose meals for the week that are easy to prepare and that for the most part, should be made immediately before eating.  Pretty much everything here, with the exception of the stir-fry and the eggplant bake can be put together in about 20 minutes.

Monday:  Middle Eastern-Style Salad Pitas with Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Parsley  (This one I'm making today, so I'll post a pic later) 



Tuesday:  Pork Fried Rice & Vegetables 






Wednesday:  Bacon and Eggs with Garlic Toast and Greens

Thursday:  Black Bean and Sweet Potato Nachos




Friday: Sausages with White Beans and Collard Greens & Eggplant and Zucchini Bake 

Anniversary Date

Sorry for the lack of posting this past weekend.  It was our wedding anniversary on Friday (yes, we were married on the 13th), and my husband and I went out on a date Saturday night to celebrate.  We spent the afternoon at the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, which houses the Group of Seven paintings and many Inuit and First Nations collections.  Unfortunately it was too hot outside for me to be able to explore the sculpture garden, but it's certainly something I'd love to go back and do. 

Hanging out on the porch, watching the world go by!


We followed our art experience with a little bit of patio time until we headed over to Chartreuse, a nice little restaurant, for dinner.  I had the salmon on a bed of mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, and my husband had the grilled lamb.  The food was exceptional, although I'm not sure how much of it was gluten free!  It's always strange to not have to ask about preparation and ingredients when we go out without my son.  It's become such a habit that I find myself automatically scanning the menu for choices that may be suitable. 
Dinner!

My bump, front and centre!

It was probably our last evening out alone together for a long time, since the baby is due in August.  I find myself getting tired more quickly now, and there are fewer places I really want to go.  Mostly my nesting instinct has kicked in and I want to get things done around the house! 

Sunday we headed on over to my parents's house for my dad and sister's birthday celebration.  They were born on the same day, so we usually celebrate together.  Grilled fish, watermelon salad, green beans, baked mini potatoes and a green salad were all on the menu.  My son enjoyed his banana-bread chocolate vegan cupcakes and sorbet for dessert, while the rest of us had plain cake. 

We got home around 9 last night, and although I was tired, it was once of the most relaxing weekends I've had in a long time!

So this morning I'm catching up on my posting.  The menu plan will be posted in the next little while...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Recipe: Watermelon and Feta Salad

This recipe takes all of 5 minutes to put together.  If you buy watermelon already cut into chunks, even less.  Pairing sweet watermelon with salty feta might seem a bit strange at first, but I served some to my husband, my son and my parents this weekend after making a huge bowl for the week, and everyone loved it.  A great to way to enjoy watermelon, and really refreshing on a hot summer's day.




This recipe easily serves six to eight as part of a meal. 


Ingredients

1/2 large watermelon, cut into bit sized chunks.  Remove seeds or buy seedless.
1 cup (or more, to taste) of feta cheese, cut into bite sized cubes
2 sprigs mint
5 basil leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil
black pepper


Directions

1- Cube watermelon and place in a large salad bowl.
2- Cube feta cheese and add to watermelon.  Rip mint and basil leaves and add to bowl.
3- Add pepper to taste and drizzle olive oil over salad. 
4- Toss salad gently, to coat with oil and blend flavours.

 This salad tastes best chilled, so keep watermelon rerigerated before use. 

The quantity of herbs is really personal preference.  Experiment to see what you like.  If you hate basil, leave it out and add more mint, or some parsley, etc.

It can be eaten immediately or refrigerated for later.  The watermelon will lose liquid the longer it sits, so you may have to drain some water from the bottom of the bowl if not serving immediately.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan




Monday:  Goat Cheese Quiche with a Tortilla Crust




Tuesday:  Ceviche (made with cooked fish, due to pregnancy) 





Wednesday:  Cold Supper with GF Cold Cuts, Veggie Sticks and Watermelon, Feta & Basil Salad 




Thursday:  Pozole Soup (a chicken soup with hominy corn)


Friday:  Grilled Asparagus and Quinoa Salad (It's our anniversary on Friday, so we may end up going out.  In that case, the quinoa salad can wait!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summertime Fun! A Round-up of Previous Posts

Although I have a summer of blogging ahead of me, I thought it would be fun to dust off some of my previous summertime posts, for those looking to get a head start on the fun! 



1- We've rented another cottage for a few weeks this summer, and I can't wait to make some S'mores.  Last year, we made them with Kinnikinnick S'moreables

2- Looking for a place to cool down from the heat and indulge in a summer treat?  My take on two popular cafés is here: Caffe Demetré and La Paloma

3- Want to grow your own local produce rather than buy from someone else, this product may help you get started!  Groorganic Garden Planner

4- A traditional dish that I had never tried before meeting my husband, that I now crave regularly.  A little squeamish using raw fish?  Now that I'm pregnant, I bake the fish first, chop it into chunks, and then put everything together.  It still tastes great!  Ceviche

5- A traditional French salad, that can be served warm or cool.  Tons of protein, plus fresh veggies make this a filling, but simple dish:  Niçoise Salad

6- I imagine we'll be eating some version of this recipe at the cottage, although probably with bass instead of halibut!  Oven Baked Halibut

7- My thoughts on the cottage we rented last year. Golden Beach Resort Review (Rice Lake).  I'll write a review of the new place later this month.

8- Looking for a place to go in the United States?  We spent a few days here: Atlantic View Hotel, Dewey Beach, Delaware Review

9- Speaking of cottages, this is what was for dinner when we went last year.  Still looks yummy! Last Year's Cottage Menu Plan

10- In the Pittsburgh area and would rather go out for dinner than make your own on a hot summer's eve?  Last summer we checked out Lidia's, and weren't disappointed!





Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Five List: Beat the Heat!

This heat wave has been killer for me.  Normally, I LOVE the heat- the hotter the better.  Living in Canada, where we complain all winter about the cold, I welcome the heat each summer with open arms. 

This year is a bit different.  I'm 33 weeks pregnant, and feeling as big as a whale.  With temperatures breaking records and no rain in sight, I've been spending more time than I like in my air-conditioned house.  And still I sweat.  I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday thinking that somehow I had spilled something on myself.  I was actually dripping in sweat. EWWWW.  And my husband had the covers pulled up to his chin, because the house is actually like an icebox. 

Sigh. 

Since I can't stay indoors ALL the time, I've had to be creative in my quest to beat the heat.  Starting next week my three year old is done daycare for the summer and will be home with me.  There's no way I can keep him indoors all the time, so here are my strategies for keeping cool in the stifling heat and humidity!


1- FLUIDS!  I always have a huge glass of ice water by my side to keep me hydrated, keep the swelling and bloating at bay, and to keep me cool.  I don't drink juice very often because I don't really need the extra calories (pregnancy is adding enough weight on its own, thank you  very much).  Sometimes, though, water just doesn't cut it, so I like to keep a pitcher of caffeine-free iced tea on hand. 

Here's my recipe:

          1- Bring 6 cups of water (or enough to fill whichever pitcher you plan to use) to a boil in a pot on the stove.
          2- Add 3-4 tea bags of choice.  I like caffeine free green tea or regular tea. Throw in some fresh, clean herbs that have been washed and torn.  My favourites are lemon balm or mint, but basil can be great too.  Remove from heat and let brew until desired level of strength.
          3- Strain tea into pitcher.  Add 1/4 cup of honey (or more to taste) and the juice of 1/2 lemon. 
          4- Refrigerate until cold, and serve over ice and a few more sprigs of whichever herb is in the tea. 

2- POPSICLES: If convenience is your thing, buying frozen treats are cheap and abundant.  Chapman's has gluten free popsicles.  If you're looking for something with a little less sugar, buy some popsicle moulds and make your own.  I routinely freeze sugar-free juice, or some fruit puree, or even yogurt mixed with fruit.  Cheap, healthy, and delicious.  My kid doesn't know the difference.

3- Shade:  I'm always under the gazebo, an umbrella, a tree, or a sun hat.  My son loves the sun, but he's not allowed out in it without a sun hat on.  Not to mention sunscreen.  I read an article the other day about sunscreen being banned from some schools in the US, which was interesting to me because my son's daycare requires a tube of sunscreen for every kid.   We put his sandbox and kiddie pool in the shade close to the house, and I avoid taking him out during the hottest hours of the day.

Always in his hat!


4- Speaking of kiddie pools...  While I would love to have a huge outdoor pool at my disposal, I don't.  Keeping my feet immersed in the water of my son's kiddie pool makes me feel like the temperature has dropped almost immediately.  Ditto for the sprinkler.  Who says that only kids can run through and get wet?  Get in, get wet, and then retreat to the shade.  Perfect.




5- Cooling snacks and meals:  There's nothing better than the fresh produce that's available during the summer, and I like to eat eat simple meals that require little or no cooking and can be eaten chilled.  Veggie sticks and fruit salads make great snacks, and chilled soups like gazpacho or cucumber can really help to hydrate and refresh.  Salads are also a great choice:  watermelon and feta, tomato, basil and mozzarella, tuna and chickpea... the list goes on.  One of the simplest meals we ate as kids was tomato with olive oil, salt and torn basil on bread.  There's no reason why this can't be recreated on a GF baguette!  This summer I plan to simplify my cooking routine and rely more on simple dishes that use fresh, local ingredients.







Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wholicious: Home Delivery

This post isn't a review or an endorsement of this service.  I actually just heard about this company and thought the service might be of interest for people eating gluten free, vegan, or with other dietary restrictions.  I haven't tried them yet, but with a new baby on the way shortly, I just might order a few pre-made meals for those crazy days!

Wholicious is an Ontario based company that provides pre-made made meals for home delivery, larger catering events, and school menus.  Leaving aside the school program, the home delivery and catering menus are what piqued my interest and had me checking out their website. 

The menus focus on organic and local (when available) ingredients, and all the food is prepared in a 100% nut free facility.  They state on their website that most of their menu items are gluten free, and they do indicate on the actual menus which items are vegan, gluten free, etc.

The meals for home delivery are prepared and then delivered frozen, to be eaten at your convenience.  The menu is small, but contains a fairly wide variety of options to choose from, and you can order single-serving, family-size, or larger (10-15 people) servings. 

My one point of concern is the following statement, taken from the dietary restrictions page of the site: "The pastas that we do offer containing gluten are made with spelt which has a much lower gluten content than wheat."  These types of statements concern me because I wonder if the company truly understands the difference between avoiding gluten as a dietary choice, and those who need to avoid gluten completely for health reasons, and if they are taking the proper precautions to avoid cross-contamination.  They do offer completely gluten free pastas, but I would still contact the company to find out about preparation precautions, etc. before ordering.  But I would do that with any company. 

Although I've never ordered pre-cooked food before, I love the idea of a company that offers options that are both gluten free and made from the healthiest ingredients possible.  Having a few single serving portions in the freezer that I can send my son out with when necessary, or being able to cater a birthday party without the need to make every single dish myself sounds fantastic. 

If anyone has tried this service, send me a message at celiacbaby@hotmail.com or post a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Happy Canada Day! 

This week's menu plan is made up of simple dishes that are easy to put together.  However, most of them are best made when ready to eat, so I've only got a few photos of past meals to include. 


Monday:  Gluten Free Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado Sandwiches


Tuesday:  Steamed Salmon with Grean Beans (all done in the steamer) 









Wednesday:  Polenta with Tomato Sauce and Meatballs 










Thursday:  Blue Cheese and Nectarine Salad with Radiccio and Garlic Baguette



Friday:  Homemade Pizza