Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gluten and Dairy Free Strawberry Ice Cream

This is the first of several strawberry recipes coming your way in the next few days.  We went strawberry picking on the weekend, and came home with enough strawberries for me to make ice cream, jam, BBQ sauce, a pie, popsicles, and have leftovers to freeze for smoothies. 
There's no comparing a freshly picked, local strawberry to one that's been sitting in the store for who knows how long.  The local strawberry season is short, so I like to stock up when they're cheap and abundant.  Frozen strawberries are great for smoothies, desserts, and simple sauces, where the mushy consistency of a thawed strawberry is an advantage. 
I modified my ice cream recipe to add eggs, because the eggs add a creaminess to the mixture that is more like real ice cream.  There is a high water content here, so the mixture would crystallize easily without them.  If you use regular eggs, the mixture must be heated to an internal temperature of 160F before being cooled and then frozen.  If you use pasteurized eggs, no heating is necessary.  If you can't eat eggs, leave them out.  The texture will be different, but not the flavour. 


2 cans coconut milk (400 ml total)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (Gluten Free)
1 cup hulled and halved strawberries (amount after being cut) + 5 extra strawberries, set aside
2 eggs (I used pasteurized eggs, for safety reasons. You don't have to heat the mixture if using them.  If you are using regular eggs, heat mixture to 160F and cool before freezing.)


1- Mix all ingredients except extra 5 strawberries in a blender & blend until smooth.

2- Pour into a metal pan (like a rectangular cake pan.)  Chop additional five strawberries into small pieces and stir into liquid. 

3- Place pan in freezer, stirring every 30 minutes or so until frozen.  I move the finished ice cream to a freezer proof container with a lid, putting a piece of wax paper on top to keep it airtight. 

Adding the eggs helps keep the mixture creamy.  I liked the texture so much that I might actually start adding eggs to my coconut vanilla ice cream as well.  There's still a high water content, so it can get hard in the freezer.  Remove and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving to give it time to soften a bit.  The texture is nice and smooth after a few minutes out of the freezer.   

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

This is a long weekend here in Canada, and I've been too busy supervising a sleepover and going strawberry picking to be too worried about my menu plan.  This week's menu plan is filled with simple meal ideas that don't take much effort to put together. 

Monday:  Tajaditas (Plantain Chips topped with Oil & Vinegar Coleslaw) & Mini Sweet Peppers Filled with Sautéed Ground Beef & Shredded Cheddar Cheese 

Tuesday: Stuffed Eggplant with Tomatoes
& Raisins with a Garden Salad  (RECIPE)

Wednesday:  Chicken & Vegetable Soup
(This one is easy: GF broth, leftover shredded rotisserie chicken, frozen veggies + some chopped celery. Salt & Pepper. Bring to boil. Done)

Thursday: Chicken Drumsticks & Thighs with Strawberry BBQ Sauce & Feta and Watermelon Salad  (Salad Recipe)
BBQ Sauce recipe to come this week!

Friday: Gnocchi in a Simple Tomato Sauce

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gluten Free Buzz (5)

Some headlines in the world of Celiac & Gluten Free this week.  Enjoy the long weekend!

Want to help out a blogger and Celiac?  Eric Dermer of Celiac and the Beast has a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for a cookbook. More info at PR Web.  View the Kickstarter Page.

Scientists are trying to develop wheat that those with Celiac disease can eat.  Good idea?  The Western Producer has the details.

Osteoporosis may be an indicator of Celiac Disease.  Read more at News Fix.

Apparently iron-deficiency is only linked to Celiac disease in Caucasians, via Healio Gastroenterology

Allergic Living takes up the new debate on the safety of gluten in cosmetics.

Research Article: Markers of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity in Children with Autism, at PLOS One

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gluten Free on a Budget: How to Save Money & Eat Well: The Basics

When switching to a gluten free diet, everything can be a bit overwhelming.  When we first had to cut gluten (and later dairy) from my son’s diet when he was just 18 months old, I remember feeling confused, and at times a bit desperate.  My first instinct was to find substitutes for everything that was suddenly off limits.  Then I noticed how out of control my grocery bill was getting.  I knew I needed a new approach.  I started making some changes and getting my shopping list under control.  Now I hope to help others struggling with some of the same issues.

I’m embarking on a series of posts about going gluten free on a budget to help others who are struggling with keeping their food expenses manageable.  Today’s post deals with just the basics: how to get started, and some simple tips for saving money on your grocery bill. 

 1- Keep Track of Spending: You can’t cut out what you don’t know you’re spending.  This step is probably the least fun of all, but I think it’s one of the most important.  How much do you spend on groceries per week, and how much of that is specifically on specialty gluten free items?  How many times do you go out to pick up something you forgot?  Here’s my suggestion: For at least two weeks (though I would suggest a month) keep track of your food bill.  Start specifically with groceries, omitting fast food, etc. for the time being.  How much do you spend overall, and how much of that is on gluten free specialty items? 
Tip: To make this part of the process easier, when shopping, put specialty items through the register in one big group at the end, so they’re easier to find on the bill.  This also helps if you’re filing for a tax refund at the end of the year. 

 2- Set a Goal & Make a Budget: How much do you want to spend on groceries?  How much are you overspending on average compared to your ideal bill?  Take a look at those receipts again, and see where you can cut right off the top.  Packaged gluten free food costs on average more than 200 times their gluten filled counterparts.  I know that when I started shopping gluten free, I was buying my son GF cookies each week, until I realized that I didn’t buy him cookies every week before going gluten free. Don’t just stop at the gluten free foods, take a look overall. The idea here isn’t to cut to the bone, it’s to cut out the stuff that you won’t really miss.  Making a budget and knowing what you can afford to spend on groceries is a great first step, and can sometimes be the little push needed to make some changes.   
Tip: Remember, this is a process. If you are overspending by a lot, you might not be able to comfortably cut it all down to size at once.  Set small goals: Maybe you want to cut $25 a week.  That’s $100 saved over the course of a month.  A great first step forward.

3- Check Flyers & Coupons and Shop All at Once:  Every Thursday we get a paper with all the flyers for the week.  This is why I grocery shop either Thursday night or Friday.  Sometimes I have to go and pick something up during the week, but I try to keep that to a minimum.  The more you shop, the more you spend.  In case you’re wondering, I don’t shop at ten different stores.  I shop at two: One with generally lower prices overall, and another that carries certain items the first does not.  I check the flyers for those two stores and make note of the sales.  That doesn’t mean I run out and buy ten packs of whatever’s on sale, but it does mean that if chicken’s on sale, there will probably be a few chicken dishes on the menu plan that week.  I ignore sale items of things that I don’t use, and only buy in bulk if it’s a buy one get one free type deal.
Tip: Don’t get sucked in to buying something just because it’s on sale. If you wouldn’t buy it anyway, it’s not really a deal for you.    

4- Menu Plan for the Week & Shop with a List: If you’re a  "cook what you feel like in the moment” kind of person, this tip might take some getting used to.  The truth is that it takes some planning to have inexpensive but delicious gluten free meals on the table day in and day out.  Not planning ahead increases the chances that you’ll be serving super expensive prepackaged meals on a regular basis. I menu plan every week, for dinners mostly, so that I can write a proper grocery list and not just wander the aisles aimlessly picking up whatever looks good.  It has not only made my life easier during the week, but has also drastically cut down my grocery bill.   It takes about 30 minutes a week to scan the flyers, decide on meals, and make a grocery list (more at first, but practice makes perfect.)  I check flyers, and decide on five dinners for the week ahead.  Then I make a list of what I need for the meals, plus all the other basics I generally buy.  I use the list at the store and don’t buy on impulse. Weekends are usually for leftovers. 
Tip: Break your list into categories to help you really see what you’re actually buying. This will make things like prepackaged items really stand out.  The categories I use are: Dairy, Meat, Fruits & Vegetables, Frozen, Grocery (canned & dry goods, prepackaged snacks), Household (cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc.) For meal ideas, check out my MENU PLANS and RECIPES tabs.   

5- Choose one area to makeover at a time:  Maybe buying gluten free cereals and bread products for breakfast takes up a lot of your budget.  Focus on overhauling breakfast for a few weeks.  Perhaps it’s all the snacks that cost too much.  Plan a week’s worth of healthy snacks before you shop.  Baby steps.  For more ideas, check my TIPS & TRICKS tab. 
Tip: Sometimes we think that if it comes from a package, it must be more convenient.  Not necessarily.  It doesn’t take very long to scramble an egg or grab a handful of grapes.  Focusing on one area at a time can take away some of the pressure and allow you to adjust to some new foods while still keeping most of your diet familiar.





Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Series: Gluten Free on a Budget: How to Save Money & Eat Well

Hello everyone! I just wanted to let you in on a new series of posts I'm embarking on over the next little while called "Gluten Free on a Budget: How to Save Money and Eat Well."  The first post will go up tomorrow, and focuses on the basics.  I've learned so much over the last few years of shopping and cooking for my gluten free son, and I want to share that knowledge with my readers. 

I've noticed that one of the biggest complaints of many people who are new to eating gluten free is  their ballooning grocery bill.  This happened to me at the beginning, but I managed to get it under control, and I didn't do it by cutting out everything we enjoy from our diet. From menu planning, to shopping, to food choices and preparation, I hope to pass on the tips and tricks that I use to feed my family and create kid-friendly healthy meals, all while keeping my grocery budget reasonable. 

If there's a topic or question you would like covered in this series of posts, please ask in the comments, or send me an email at  I'm also interested in collecting your tips!  What do you do to keep your grocery bill low? 

Wordless Wednesday

My son, helping marinate chicken.  I'm a firm believer in getting kids in the kitchen at a young age.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

3 Ingredient Gluten & Dairy Free Coconut Vanilla "Ice Cream"

I don't have an ice cream maker.  I never needed one.  If I wanted ice cream, I bought it.  Simple.  Then my son had to have gluten and dairy removed from his diet.  Well.  Suddenly just grabbing a container of ice cream wasn't so easy to do anymore.  We sometimes buy gelato, and there are a few brands of dairy free ice cream that we like, but they tend to be pretty expensive. 

A heat wave started here this weekend, and I thought "Gee, wouldn't it be nice to have some ice cream.  Oh, right.  Never mind."  But then my can-do spirit emerged and I thought "Why don't I just make some ice cream?"  Maybe because I've never done it before?  Pshaw. How hard can it be?  Don't laugh.  I refused to create a complicated recipe. 

So it's not.  It's so simple a child could make it.  Exactly the way it should be.

Besides the ingredients, you'll need a cake pan or some other metal container for freezing the mixture, no lid required, and a whisk or a spoon for stirring.  Also, a blender or hand blender would be helpful, but a whisk would work just as well for the initial mixing.

(Makes about 3 1/2 - 4 cups)

2 cans of coconut milk (200ml each, for a total of 400ml)
3/4 cup white sugar
1-2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (check for gluten, add as much or as little to taste)


1- Mix all ingredients in a bowl, blender, or food mixer.  Blend until mix thickens up a bit, about 2-3 minutes.

2- Pour mixture into metal container and freeze.  Remove from freezer and whisk/stir every 30 minutes or so, until desired thickness and consistency is achieved.  Mixing is important because the water from the coconut milk separates otherwise.

Serve and Enjoy! 

Tip:  The consistency is similar to real ice cream, but it melts more quickly.  If the ice cream gets too hard to scoop and begins to break after being frozen for a while, remove from freezer a few minutes before serving.   

Sugar Free:  Add a mashed banana in place of the sugar.  The flavour and colour will be a bit different, but it should still taste yummy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Heinz Gluten Free Product List

It's always hard to tell if a bottled product is gluten free if it's not stated directly on the container.  Heinz is one of the largest food product companies around, so I was curious about which products would be safe for my gluten free son to consume.  Thankfully, their website has a great resource, and includes products and the countries they're sold in, in case the formulation differs from one country to another.

I already knew that ketchup was gluten free (how else would my son eat his fish sticks?) but I'm happy to note that many, many other products are too. 

There is a gluten free information page on the site HERE.

To see the full product list, click HERE.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Korean Style Ribs with Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday: Chicken Breast Cutlets with Fig & Balsamic Reduction & Roasted Mini Potatoes & Salad

Wednesday: Creamy Sundried Tomato & Mushroom Pasta (my son can't have dairy anymore, so we'll make his with a dairy substitute) (RECIPE) 

Thursday: White Bean, Spinach & Chicken Meatball Soup (RECIPE)

Friday: Chicken & Pineapple Stir Fry, Black Beans & Rice, Coleslaw (Can you tell there was a sale on chicken this week?) 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Simple, Sugar Free Iced Tea Recipe for a Hot Day

I love iced tea, but find that most commercial brands are way too sweet for my liking.  I remember my mom making iced tea from scratch in the summer, and it was always not too sweet, not too bitter.  Here's a simple recipe that can easily be adapted to your personal preference. 


6 cups (or more) water
4 tea bags
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fresh herbs (optional)


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. 

A simple summer recipe that can easily be doubled or adapted for different flavours.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gluten Free Buzz (4)

There's a lot to talk about in the world of gluten free this week.  Here are a few headlines that caught my eye.  Click on the link to see the entire article.

Not new news to many in the gluten free community, but it's making headlines.  Dunkin' Donuts to offer a line of gluten free donuts.  Read more on MSN News.

Gluten Free Guru Hosting Pop-Up Dinners, via Wilmette Life article discusses whether a gluten free diet can lessen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Those with Celiac Disease and Diabetes face hard food bank choices, according to a CBC report.

Dental Enamel Problems and Celiac Disease (Globe and Mail)

A Celiac Disease Screening Study, via Watch List News

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

The weather is finally starting to cooperate, and my garden is starting to look like a real garden again! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Banana Chocolate "Creamsicle" Popsicles (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Last week I wrote about Piña Colada popsicles, and man, were they delicious, but let's face it- around my house, the kids eat most of the popsicles.  This recipe is for my son, who will never eat a store bought "creamsicle," but can still enjoy a similar treat that's probably healthier for him anyway.  These are simple to make, and the quantities can be adjusted according to your personal taste.  Enjoy!

(Makes approx. 4 popsicles)

200 ml coconut milk, stirred
1 banana, cut in pieces
1/4 cup gluten & dairy free chocolate chips, melted (or a squeeze of chocolate syrup)


1- Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.  Taste, and adjust flavours.

2- Pour into molds and freeze. 

I would prefer them in regular molds, but my son wanted "Rocket Pops."  Since they're his popsicles, he won.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Health Update: This is turning out to be a tough year

The last time I updated on the blog about my son's health was sometime in March, when we were putting my son on an elimination diet in an attempt to bring down the swelling in his glands.  Click HERE to see that post.  He was scheduled to undergo an ultrasound to check on his glands.  A lot has happened since then.

The glands didn't shrink with the diet, although his rashes disappeared and we realized that he can't have any dairy.  We had been giving him small quantities, but the rash disappeared when we took it out, so it's gone permanently.  He used to be able to tolerate goat's milk, and we will try that again in the future, but for now it's all off limits.  The follow-up ultrasound showed that his glands were actually getting bigger, despite the change in diet, and that's a concern.  So, we embarked on another round of tests to see if we could figure out the problem.

Those two weeks were the worst of my life. 

A lung x-ray, an abdominal ultrasound and more blood work.  They checked for vitamin deficiencies, lung cancer, leukemia, and a host of other illnesses.  Waiting for the results of those tests was agony, but we were lucky to hear that all the results came back negative. 

Except that there's still the pesky problem of his enlarged glands that nobody seems to be able to explain away.  They're much larger than they should be. 

Then, 10 days ago, he was glutened.  Nobody's quite sure exactly what happened, but he ate something at daycare that he shouldn't have.  My son says he had a bite of his friend's pasta, so I'm going with that, but who knows?  The problem is that his glands are even bigger than they were before as a result of the gluten, and he's had diarrhea for the past ten days. 

I know this is a gross topic, but I also know that there are parents reading this with their own kids experiencing these symptoms, so I'm writing this to provide info to people like them.  When I say diarrhea, I mean almost pure liquid.  There's nothing solid there, and although he tries to hold it in almost all day (which is painful and makes him miserable), it sometimes gets so bad that he can't.  He's had several accidents, and yesterday we went through four outfits before he finally let us put him in a pull up.  He was furious, and embarrassed, and felt like a baby, and it broke my heart.  He's four years old and has been toilet trained for years.

Different people have different reactions to gluten, but for my son it's always been diarrhea.  Usually for about two weeks.  The doctor said there's nothing that can really be done except to keep him hydrated, feed him well and as much as he wants, and give him a probiotic.  His appetite gets out of control when healing from a gluten attack, and he eats adult sized portions.  He's already skinny, but he lost the 2 pounds it took him a year to gain in the span of a week, despite eating almost non-stop, all day, every day for the past ten days. 

He goes back at the end of the month for a follow up ultrasound, but I already know they're going to find enlarged glands.  I can feel them just by touching his neck and head.  He's home with me today, but I worry for when he starts school in September.  Two weeks is a long time to be sick in one go, and no kid in kindergarten wants to go to school in a pull-up.  His ongoing illness has prompted me to apply for a leave from work starting in September, when my maternity leave ends.  This latest bout illustrates why.  I can't just call in sick for two weeks at a time, nor can my husband.  It will be an interesting year of finding a way to bring in an income while staying home with my youngest and working out my older son's health issues, but until we know what's wrong, this is the way it has to  be.

I want this happy little boy back

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Herb Crusted Lamb Chops with Greek Salad
(Lamb Chops: Marinate in Red Wine, then coat with egg & dip in finely chopped herbs.  Pan fry.)

Tuesday: Stuffed Peppers 

Wednesday: Eggplant & Zucchini Bake with Gluten Free Baguette & Garden Salad

Thursday:  Tandoori Style Chicken with Vegetable Curry  

Friday: Quiche & Arugula Salad

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Simple Gluten Free Father's Day Menu Plan

If you're still wondering what to make for Father's Day, I'd like to share my simple menu plan.  Tomorrow is a day to celebrate the special men in our lives, whether they're our fathers, grandfathers, husbands, or some other male figure who was always there for us.  My sons and I have a special pancake breakfast planned for Daddy tomorrow morning, and then we're headed to my parents' house for dinner. 

Our dinner menu, all gluten free of course:

Steak & chicken on the BBQ
Baked potatoes
Baked zucchini & eggplants in tomato sauce (slice, cover with sauce, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 375F for about 25 minutes.  Simple)
Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert
Piña colada popsicles for the adults & mango ones for the kids

If you want more inspiration, check out my RECIPE page for more options.

I'm lucky to have a wonderful father who always supported me and encouraged me to be who I wanted to be.  A father who coached my teams and came on field trips.  Who took me fishing and taught me how to work with my hands.  A father who still stops by every week on his day off to check in and help me with stuff around the house. 

I'm also lucky to have a great husband who is a fantastic dad to his own two boys.  Tomorrow I'll be celebrating both those men who have enriched my life in many ways.  I hope there's someone in your life to celebrate too.  A while ago I wrote a guest post on Daddy Blogger about what my Dad taught me about good fathers.  Those lessons stay with me every day as I parent my own sons.  I had a great example to learn from.
My dad, feeding my youngest on a volcano in El Salvador
Happy Father's Day!

Bill 75: A Bill to Include Celiac Disease Screening in Ontario

If you live in Ontario and need to get screened for Celiac disease, the test may soon be less expensive.  Bill 75, Health Insurance Amendment Act (Celiac Disease Screening) 2013, was introduced in May 2013.  It was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Mr. Bill Mauro.  The amendment requests that screening for Celiac Disease be covered under the provincial health care program, and it passed first reading at the end of May. 

For more information, and to click on a pdf version of the bill, visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's website.

Want to know more about Bill Mauro, the MPP who tabled the bill?  He represents Thunder Bay- Atikokan.  There's a statement on his site about why he decided to support this important cause.  Visit his WEBSITE to read the press release.  Want to say thanks?  There's a contact page there too!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why I Attend Events Like Canada's Gluten Free Market

If you follow Celiac Baby! on a regular basis (thank you, btw) you'll know that I try my best to make it out to gluten free events like the one I attended this weekend, Canada's Gluten Free Market.  Sometimes people ask if I get tired of going to so many, or why I bother if I'm already familiar with many of the gluten free products on the market. 

I don't get tired of attending these events.  I attend for several reasons, the most important of which is to support the gluten free community.  This weekend, in addition to vendors there were speakers and advocates, and the Canadian Celiac Association.   It's also the perfect opportunity to meet others in the community, including other attendees.  I had several casual conversations, getting tips and recommendations from others.  I love that my son can accept a cookie or a cracker from someone without needing to check with me before eating it, and it's a great way for me to see what's new on the market.

 I am fairly up-to-date with what's available, but often events like this allow smaller vendors to shine.  I discovered a new line of Indian cooking sauces available only through one supermarket chain that happens to have a location near my house.  The vendor explained to me that they were a small family business, slowly trying to make their way into the market.  I probably wouldn't have discovered their product otherwise.  After trying their vegetable curry sauce, I've been won over. 

Some of the vendors

I also love learning about new bakeries and bistros, and I spend a lot of time gathering business cards and flyers. Some of this is research for my blog, so that I can pass on new finds to readers, but mostly it's to expand the range of places I know I can take my son where he can have a safe meal.  We don't eat out a lot, but when we do, I try to spend my money at restaurants that are safe for my son. 

This past weekend I was lucky enough to win a pair of tickets to the event through CityBites, and like always, I took the whole family.  Yes, I sometimes get dirty looks as I navigate the baby stroller down the aisles, but I try to be considerate of others, parking the stroller to one side and keeping out of the way as much as possible.  Our house is gluten free because my 4 year old needs to be.  If he's going to be capable of managing his diet one day, it doesn't make sense not to include him. 

My youngest, checking out the literature!

The market place was pretty large, and included several aisles of vendors, including more than one stall focused on travel, another on beauty products, a wholesale service, and much, much more.  I took home several samples, business cards from almost every stall, and a list of bakeries & eateries to visit.  We didn't stay as long as we usually do at these events because my son didn't feel well, but it was still a great event.  I'm looking forward to the next one!

If you're new to gluten free, events like this can help connect you to the larger community and help familiarize you with the range of options available.  For those who have been gluten free for a long time, these outings are a great way of showing your support, connecting with others, and maybe even discovering something new. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Recipe: Piña Colada Popsicles

I had a ripe pineapple lying around on the weekend, and was trying to decide what to do with it, when the idea for these popsicles popped into my head.  I don't make them too strong, I like just a hint of rum, but feel free to adjust for taste.  This can also be made granita style, poured into a pan and stirred occasionally until frozen. 

(Approx. 8 popsicles)

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced in chunks
200 ml coconut milk (half a can)
2-3 shots rum (or more, to taste.)  If you prefer a stronger coconut flavour, used Coconut Rum
Handful grated coconut


1- Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. 

2- Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June Cookbook of the Month

I realize I'm a little late on this, but things have been a bit crazy around here.  Still, I'm excited to be trying out recipes from another gluten free cookbook this month.  I really like the look of this one, so here's hoping it's a delicious month ahead!

Unbelievably Gluten-Free: 128 Delicious Recipes: Dinner Dishes You Never Thought You'd Be Able to Eat Again
Unbelievably gluten-free pizza! Unbelievably gluten-free fried chicken! Unbelievably gluten-free pasta! Plus breads, dumplings, fritters, pies, cakes, puddings, and more. For the 30 million Americans who have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, and their families, who want to reclaim the dinner experience of everyone eating the same thing; Anne Byrn creates 125 amazing dishes where the gluten is gone, and never missed.

Author also of The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, and other cookbooks, Anne Byrn knows how to deliver incredible flavors. She replaces wheat, barley, and rye with gluten-free ingredients and employs creative techniques for achieving flawless textures and consistencies. These are recipes that taste as good, not almost as good, as they should: Tomato Panzanella Salad. Baked French Onion Soup. Spaghetti Carbonara. Grilled Chicken and Pesto Pizza. The Best GF Meat Loaf. Plus dessert: Warm Lemon Pudding Cake, Gluten- Free Red Velvet Cake, Fresh Orange Cupcakes, Old-Fashioned Peach and Blueberry Cobbler, and Gluten-Free Saucepan Brownies.

Includes how to convert favorite recipes and tips for eating gluten-free on a budget.
Publisher: Workman Publishing Group
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
I chose this book because I know that this author has written several other books, but I haven't tied any of them.  I'm already making a list of things to try.  The book has recipes ranging from breakfast through dessert, so here's to a yummy month ahead! 
Purchase:  Amazon

Wordless Wednesday

A friend accidentally took this photo of my youngest son's feet, and I love it!  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Travel Review: House Rental in Playa Bejuco, Costa Rica

Traveling with children is an adventure all on its own, but traveling with a child who has food restrictions makes things just that much more complicated.  I want my children to see the world, but I know that in order to keep my son safe, some extra planning is required.  When my husband and I decided to take a family vacation to Costa Rica, we explored several options for accommodations before deciding on renting a house. 

The house we rented in Plays Bejuco, Costa Rica

We made that choice for a few reasons.  Price was certainly a consideration.  We paid $650 a week for a three bedroom house with a private pool and a short walk to the beach, much less than we would have paid for an all inclusive.  Since the baby still takes two naps a day, I didn't want one of us stuck in a hotel room half the time.  Equally important to our decision was our older son's food restrictions.  Gluten and dairy free make for a complicated navigation of a hotel buffet.  We figured we'd probably be buying or preparing most of his own food anyway, and decided that it would be simpler to do that in a house.  Finally, the privacy issue.  This was the first family vacation we were taking since the baby was born, and we wanted our own space, with our own pool, to just hang out and be a family. 

We chose a house in Playa Bejuco.  It's located along the Pacific coast between Jaco Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park, on a beautiful slice of beach that was deserted most of the time.  The house was a three bedroom, three bathroom home, with modern appliances, A/C, and a private pool, located in a private community right off a main highway.  There are a lot of houses for rent in Costa Rica, but this one was affordable and located in close proximity to many sights. 

We rented a car for the trip, and had no trouble navigating the highways from the airport to the house.  It's about two hours from San Jose, between Jaco Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park.  There's great surfing, national parks, fishing, crocodile watching, shopping, volcanoes, and extreme sports all within an hour long drive from the house.  Since we had two small kids with us we didn't do everything, but we still managed to do quite a bit. 

We viewed the crocodiles from the Tarcoles bridge and explored the market at Jaco beach.

Crocodile in the Tarcoles river
Fruit & vegetable shopping at the market

We drove down to the surfing community at Dominical.  We trekked 18 km through Manuel Antonio National Park. 

Monkeys in Manuel Antonio. 

Visited the mountain church in Escazu.  Checked out the Children's Museum in San Jose.  Ate at several small restaurants, met some local people, and bought souvenirs from the man carving them as we shopped. 

Calamari rice at a seafood restaurant near Jaco

We couldn't be happier with our decision.  The grocery store in the town about ten minutes away had pretty much everything we needed, although we made the longer drive to Quepos once to buy baby formula and a few more specialty items.  I would strongly recommend renting a car if staying here, but the roads are well maintained and easy to navigate.  We felt very safe in the community, and the maintenance and security staff were friendly and helpful.  There is a community pool, BBQ area and tennis courts, in case you feel like being social.  The beach is beautiful, and although we didn't spend as much time there as we would have liked because of the baby, it was incredible.

The owners were friendly and answered all of our questions before we agreed to rent, sending us a comprehensive agreement with many useful tips.  The house had free WIFI, a phone, a Blu Ray player, board games, and guide books.  The house is not directly beachfront, but it is a short walk, and the private pool with a small shallow pool attached was perfect for my family.  If you're looking to be in the middle of the action, this might not be the house for you.  If you're looking for relaxation, comfort, and privacy, this house is perfect.  It's far enough away from town to be secluded, but close enough to everything to be convenient if you have a car. 

Disclaimer:  I'm not affiliated with the owners in any way, and I'm not receiving any compensation for this review.  This is my personal opinion based on my experience during my stay in May 2013.  The price we paid was the going rate for the time of year we chose, the year we traveled.  Check their listing for up-to-date pricing.   

For more information about the property, you can view their listing here:  VRBO

Some more photos of the house & our trip:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Recipe: Garden Fresh Quinoa Salad

I love quinoa, and enjoy finding new ways to enjoy it.  My oldest son's favourite way is in soup, but I love quinoa pilafs and salads.  I put together this salad with what I had on hand, and I am very happy with the results.  Feel free to substitute ingredients, but I like the combination of crunchy and soft, warm and cold.  Enjoy!


1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups water
2 green onions, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
4 oz. sliced mushrooms (about half a pack of sliced mushrooms)
2 handfuls washed arugula leaves
Crumbled goat cheese to taste

Dressing (will be divided in two)

1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dried herbs to taste (I use thyme for most dressings, but dried or fresh parsley would also work well)


1- Rinse quinoa to get rid of bitterness.  Bring water to a boil, add quinoa and lower to medium heat.  Cover and cook for 12 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

2- While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables and set aside.  Cook mushrooms in water or a small amount of olive oil.  Wash and tear arugula leaves.

3- Prepare salad dressing by mixing oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper & herbs.  mix until combined, then divide in two. 

4- Place quinoa in a bowl or serving platter.  Pour half of dressing over quinoa and mix to combine.  Cover quinoa with onions, carrots, zucchini, arugula, mushrooms and goat cheese.  Mix. 

5- Serve while still warm, drizzling extra dressing over top as needed.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday:  Chicken & Apricot Tagine over Rice (I would mention the sauce I used, but I didn't love it.  I'm going to work on creating my own version instead.) 

Tuesday: Turkey Burgers & Garden Fresh Quinoa Salad  RECIPE

Wednesday:  Falafel with Mediterranean Dips & Veggie Sticks (Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Dip) 

Thursday:  Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry  over Rice Noodles

Friday: Vegetable Soup & Leftovers

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cookbook of the Month: May's Review

Cooking Light The Gluten-Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals

Cooking Light introduces The Gluten-Free Cookbook-the search for simple, healthy and delicious gluten-free meals is over. Cooking Light developed more than 180 everyday recipes that will work for the reader searching for a wide variety of satisfying and flavorful gluten-free dishes. Designed in a full-color, easy-to-read format, Cooking Light The Gluten-Free Cookbook is the definitive guide to cooking gluten-free.
Questions from individuals who live gluten-free either out of necessity or by choice are answered all in one place. Within the pages of this book, readers will find the best kitchen tips and techniques and helpful information about ingredients that are the basis of gluten free cooking, including which grains, flours, and convenience products to use. This book offers simple advice on how to avoid gluten containing products-natural and hidden sources-and teaches what to look for on the nutrition label. Enjoy food previously sacrificed, such as pizza, pastas, meatloaf, sandwiches, breads, and even desserts! On every page, readers will find deliciously transformed, gluten-free versions of their favorite dishes-from quick breads to cakes and oven-fried chicken to spaghetti and meatballs, and more.
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Publication date: August 2, 2011


The focus of this cookbook is on simple recipes.  To achieve this goal, many of the recipes call for prepared gluten free foods (such as bread) to be used in many recipes.  I have no problem with this, because I know how time consuming cooking for a family of four can be day in and day out.  However, if you're looking to make every item from scratch, this might not be the book for you.  If you're looking for quick and easy gluten free meal ideas, this book delivers.  Although it's not a dairy free cookbook, recipes that are dairy free are clearly marked, which I appreciated.

I made the Bruschetta with warm tomatoes, Chickpea bajane, Soft tacos with green chile cilantro rice and egg, Sweet and sour pork, Chicken tacos with mango avocado salsa, and Pasta with roasted red pepper and cream sauce.  Each of the dishes were simple to make and the flavour was great.  So often recipes that are gluten free fail to deliver on taste, but not these.  In fact, the mango avocado salsa and pasta with roasted red pepper & cream sauce have become family favourites.  I substitute dairy free milk in the pasta recipe, and my son loves it. 

I also like that this cookbook has photos accompanying every recipe.  I like to know what my dish is supposed to look like when it's done.  The photos are clear, and none of the dishes are plated in a way that's unrealistic for the average person to achieve. 

Verdict:  This is a good basic cookbook for anyone new to gluten free or who isn't interested in complicated, fancy recipes.  The recipes are simple to follow and the photos are helpful.  There's a good variety of breakfasts, side dishes, main course meals, and desserts.  It's not a huge cookbook, but there is some variety in the recipes, with several Asian and Indian recipes alongside Italian and Latin American inspired dishes, and some classic North American ones too. 

Purchase:  AMAZON

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Great Gluten Free Event in the Greater Toronto Area this Weekend

The Canadian Celiac Association has a whole weekend full of events coming up for those in the Greater Toronto Area.  It's a great way to support the Gluten Free community, to help raise awareness, meet new people, and try new products. 

The big event is The National Conference, taking place June 7-9 at the International Centre in Mississauga.  The conference features doctors, researchers and dietitians.  Pre-register at

If you're interested in attending some events but the conference is not for you, Canada's Gluten Free Market is being held on Saturday, June 8, in the International Centre Hall #1.  It will be a great opportunity to sample new products and meet with vendors.  Tickets can be pre-ordered a  

In addition, there are several other workshops and dining events happening.  One of the coolest in my opinion is the program for kids.  Called Surviving Gluten Free, it's a weekend of activities for kids aged 7-16 years old, including speakers, team challenges, a GF cooking class, and a pizza & pool party.  Such a great opportunity for kids to connect with each other and enjoy a weekend worry free.  I can't wait for my son to be old enough to participate in this! 

For more information on all these events and more, go to

I always have a great time at these events, learning about new products and meeting new people.  It's a great opportunity to stay up to date with the latest in research and to make some new friends! 

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gluten Free Wafers Now Available at Churches in Toronto

Just a quick note about an article I read in the paper this morning.

A report in the Toronto Star states that gluten free wafers and low gluten wafers are now available at some Toronto area churches.  Anglican churches are free to offer completely gluten free ones, while the Catholic church has low gluten wafers available for worshippers who require them.  This is great news for worshippers who have either been foregoing Communion because of the wheat-filled wafer, or suffering the consequences of ingesting one. 

Want to know more? 

Visit The Toronto Star for the full article. 

Wordless Wednesday

This little guy was just hanging out in our yard the other morning.  My son made us watch in silence so we wouldn't scare him away.  He thinks it's the Easter Bunny.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Recipe: Gluten & Dairy Free "Cream" of Zucchini Soup

Our next door neighbour grows zucchini in the summer, and sometimes the vines are so prolific that they grow over our side of the fence, and he lets us keep what grows on our side.  I can't use them all at once, so I chop some into large chunks and freeze them, pulling them out for stir fries, baked goods, and soups.  This soup is one of those 15 minute ones, using 6 ingredients.  It's also kid approved.  Just sayin'.

Serves 4

2 large zucchini, washed and chopped into chunks.  I don't peel mine, but feel free.
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 box ( approx. 4 cups) vegetable broth.  I use Campbell's Gluten Free Vegetable Broth
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dried Thyme to taste


1- In a soup pot, add zucchini, potato, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Cook until potato is soft and cooked through.

2- Season with salt, pepper and thyme.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until creamy and smooth.  It can also be put in a blender, following the company's directions for blending hot liquids. 

3- Serve, topped with shaved zucchini as garnish, or with some grated Parmesan cheese if you are not dairy free as well. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Recipe: Gluten Free Sausage Pasta Carbonara

I sometimes like my pasta in a sauce other than tomato or pesto, and this is one of the simplest yet tastiest pastas around.  It can be made mild or spicy.  This pasta is ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta and sauté the sausages.


1 bag pasta (approx. 450g)  I use a short pasta for this, like a rigatoni.
4 Italian Sausages (hot or sweet), meat removed from casings
1 Gluten Free bouillon cube (beef or vegetable flavoured)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Chopped fresh basil or dried basil to taste (substitute parsley or oregano if preferred)
2 eggs
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Shaved parmesan for garnish (if desired)


1- Heat water for pasta.  While waiting for water to boil, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan.  Remove meat from casings and add to frying pan, breaking up meat with a fork into small pieces.  Dissolve bouillon cube in a small amount of hot water, and add to sausage in pan. 

2- When water boils, add pasta and cook according to instructions.  Continue cooking sausage until no longer pink.  Add garlic, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until garlic is soft and fragrant, adjust seasonings and turn off heat, another 2-3 minutes. 

3- While pasta continues to cook, in a small bowl, beat eggs, adding the grated cheese a little at a time until combined. 

4- When pasta is cooked, remove one ladle of cooking water before draining and add it to sausage mixture.  Drain pasta, and return to pot. Do not rinse pasta in cold water.  Add sausage mixture and toss.  Pour in egg and cheese mixture, stirring to mix.  The heat from the pasta will cook the egg, but it's important to stir so that you don't get clumps of eggs.  Taste, and adjust seasonings.

Serve immediately, garnishing with shaved cheese or fresh basil if desired. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

We had an out of town guest this past week who is leaving today, so I didn't have much time to plan a menu plan for the week.  Still, sometimes simple is best!  Here's what we're eating at my house this week.

Monday:  Gluten Free Pasta Carbonara with Homemade Sausage

Tuesday: Gluten & Dairy Free Zucchini Soup

Wednesday: Shaking Beef


Thursday: Oven Fried Chicken & Green Beans

Friday: Tofu in a Mushroom Sauce