Friday, December 19, 2014

This Letter From Santa for Kids with Food Allergies is the Best Thing Ever

The lovely folks over at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) have once again come up with a way for kids with food restrictions to feel not only included, but special. These are the same people who started the Teal Pumpkin Project to help make Halloween more inclusive for kids with food allergies.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Product Review: Grain Free JK Gourmet

Earlier this week I received a package containing some samples from Grain Free JK Gourmet. I'll be honest- before receiving these samples I had never heard of the company, but since I'm always up for discovering new products I couldn't wait to dig in. I received three items: Fig and Apricot Granola, GG Bites (kind of like sesame snaps), and Almond Cherry Chocolate.

Gluten Free and Grain Free is stamped right there on all the packages, so after confirming that the products are in fact made in a gluten free facility (peanut and dairy free too!) I rounded up my husband and the kids and we gave the products a try.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quebec Winter Carnival: The Perfect Family Getaway (and how to enjoy it gluten free!)

The Quebec Winter Carnival, or the Carnaval de Québec, has been around since 1894, and has been held annually since the 1950s. A gigantic event held across some of the most beautiful and historic sites in Quebec City, the winter carnival is a must-do event for families looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Located a few hours from Montreal, Quebec City is a picturesque city with a lot of history that opens its doors to the world for a 17 day party every winter. The 2015 carnival runs from January 30- February 15, featuring activities that run day and night. The 2015 theme is Bonhomme's World, exploring the magical existence of the beloved carnival mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Celiac Baby Turns Four! Thank You!

Today is a special day. Four years ago I was a struggling mom trying to wrap my head around my son's new gluten free life. He was not yet two years old, and had been sick and suffering for so long that when removing gluten from his diet started making him better, I felt as though we had been handed a miracle. Parents who have watched their kids battle constant illness, who are underweight no matter what you try, who always in pain and suffering, will understand the relief I felt when the doctor was able to rule out things like Cystic Fibrosis and instead confirmed that by changing his diet we could change his health. Although I was grateful to have found the cause of his troubles, I was also overwhelmed at just how difficult it really is to eliminate ALL sources of gluten.

Monday, December 1, 2014

We Have Big Travel Plans for 2015!

We're moving to France! We applied for our long term visas (1 year) on Wednesday, and then settled in for a two week or more wait for a response. To our surprise, we received an email yesterday afternoon telling us that our visas had been approved and that we could pick them up next week. 

We're ecstatic! 

This has been a several month process of getting ready to go, and the approval process was what we were waiting on to make our dream a reality!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Homemade Advent Calendar 2014

Last year I made a food free Advent calendar for my gluten free son. It was the first year he was interested in counting down to Christmas, and I was having a hard time finding a commercial gluten free Advent calendar. Instead, I made my own version!

I will be making another homemade Advent calendar again this year, although since we're staying with my parents for the holidays and they don't have a mantel, I'll have to make a more compact version.

This post generated some great feedback last year, and several people sent me messages to let show me their homemade Advent calendars, so I thought it was worth another share this year.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Product Review: Sam Mills Gluten Free Products

A few months ago, my mother in law came to visit us in Canada from El Salvador, and she brought along several gluten free products that we haven't seen in Canada before. One company in particular caught my eye: Sam Mills USA. My mother-in-law brought along some pasta and some granola from this company, which specializes in corn-based products.

I'm typically wary of pastas that are made from 100% corn because I find that they don't always have the best consistency, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Sam Mills pasta. It cooked up well, and kept its consistency even after being refrigerated and reheated for leftovers. Like all gluten free pasta it sucked up sauce like crazy, so I recommend making extra if planning on having pasta leftover.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Win Two Passes Gluten Free Garage in Toronto November 9!

I am a big fan of the Gluten Free Garage that's held in Toronto each November. It's a bit different from most other gluten free events I've attended because it focuses on local gluten free products and producers. Rather than being bombarded by all the big international brands, it allows locals to get to know and support smaller local businesses. I've discovered many new products at this event in the past. It's also small enough to walk through in a few hours, making it a great way to spend about a half day eating, drinking, and connecting with others who "get it" when it comes to gluten free living.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our Halloween Preparations

My son and my niece, ready to face the villains!
My kids are in what I like to call the "Golden Age" of celebrating Halloween. Old enough to participate in crafts and baking, able to walk to trick or treat, and excited about dressing up, but young enough to still believe in the magic of ghosts and witches and to want to celebrate everything with their parents. I know it's only a matter of time before the older one will want to go trick or treating with his friends instead of his parents, or he'll be embarrassed that his mother likes to dress up to hand out candy at the door.

So I'm making the most of it while I can, and enjoying every minute. Kids of all ages can participate in Halloween decorating and treat making, provided the activities are scaled to their ability and interest level.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe on Halloween (updated)

I first published this post last year, but I think the content is pretty timeless. I've updated the post with new information and links where relevant, including safe Halloween candy lists for 2014. 

When your child has food restrictions or allergies, holidays that are supposed to be fun can turn into nightmares for parents trying to keep their kids safe. In addition to the usual safety precautions, there are the concerns about what your child can eat, and how to handle the disappointment that can accompany the realization that most of what’s in their trick or treat bag isn’t safe for them to consume. Here are some tips for a safe and happy gluten free Halloween.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The "Switch Witch" is Coming to My House This Halloween

A few days ago I wrote about my decision to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween, which helps raise awareness of food allergies while also supporting allergic children by also making some non-food Halloween items available for trick-or-treating kids. It would be incredible if my son could come home with a bag full of safe items for him, but I know that much of his treat bag will contain gluten-filled snacks that he cannot eat.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We're Taking Part in the Teal Pumpkin Project

I LOVE Halloween. Everything about it makes me smile, from the decorations to the costumes to the candy.

A few years ago my love for Halloween was tested when my toddler son went on a gluten and dairy free diet.

Halloween became a nightmare. Every piece of candy in his treat bag was a potential danger to him, and he was still too young to understand why he couldn't eat most of it. I spent forever going through each candy in his bag, still too new to the process to have a grasp on what was safe and what wasn't. What should have been a fun night was a scary, stressful one for me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gluten Free Candy Lists 2014

Each year, a number of different organizations post their updated Gluten Free Candy Lists. Most lists are specific to the United States, but My Gluten Facts offers candy lists for both Canada and the United States, which I find particularly useful. For some reason, some candies that are manufactured to be gluten free in one country may have a different formulation in another country, causing confusion for consumers.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Where I've Been: A Blog Update

Hanging out in Nice, France
I've been neglecting you, my readers, for a few weeks now and I feel terrible about it. So what's the deal? Where have I gone?

I'm currently on a six week "vacation" in France, scoping out where I hope to live with my family for the next year. We've been traveling from city to city, mostly in the South of France, to get a feel for each location.

Every few days is a new local, and while it's been a lot of fun, it hasn't left a lot of time for writing. In fact, I have pretty much declined any new freelance work, and struggled to get caught up on outstanding assignments.

We've been to Nice, Monaco (just for fun, not to live!), Menton, Aix-en-Provence, Lyon, Avignon, and we're currently in Montpellier. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Products are Perfect for School Lunches

My 5 year old is a typical kid, who likes to eat in a hurry and loves anything he can hold in his hands rather than have the need to use a utensil. Sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers, muffins- all those fun things that are not easy to find gluten free. Over the almost 4 years that he has been gluten free, we have tried almost every brand of bread on the market, with varying degrees of success. Most gluten free breads come frozen, and then not only have to be defrosted but also have to be toasted before being edible. Others have huge holes in the middle, or are dry and mealy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (September 1-5, 2014)

We've been living in a hotel for the past week since selling our house, waiting for our departure to France. We leave for 6 weeks in France tomorrow, so the truth is, I'm not really sure what we'll be eating for the rest of the week, except that it will be gluten free! Still, it's back to school for most, so quick and easy meals are a must. Here are some simple meal ideas to make back to school dinners run smoothly. Did I mention that these recipes are all extremely budget friendly?

Monday: Chicken with Tomatoes & Olives (RECIPE)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Move is Complete!

The past few weeks have been what can only be described as hectic and insane. My littlest guy turned two on Wednesday, so we had a joint birthday/going away party last weekend. We invited family only for the birthday party, and then had a few friends join us for a going away party before we moved out of our house and got ready to head overseas. For more about our upcoming move to Europe, check out THIS POST.
Then the real work began. Over the past week we have moved the contents of our entire home into a storage unit, or to a local charity, or to friends and family with small children. Essentially we packed up our entire lives for storage, with the exception of a few suitcases of clothing that we will take with us when we leave for France. Trying to pack up and move things with a 5 and 2 year old in the house was challenging to say the least!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tutorial: How to Decorate a Sprinkle Cake

A few weeks ago I made a rainbow sprinkle cake as the Kid's Cake at a birthday party that featured a bigger main cake that wasn't gluten free. Since posting photos of the cake, I've received several requests for instructions on how to create one.
 It was actually one of the easiest cake I've ever decorated, since it's almost impossible to mess up. I think a round cake works better than a square or rectangular one, and would be easier to decorate.

Let's get started!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Five Tips for Surviving a Juice Cleanse

I finished my first 5 day juice cleanse on Saturday, and I have to admit, I actually kind of liked it. I'm a person who believes that food is pleasure, unlike those who only see food as nourishment. As a result, I was worried that five days of only consuming juice for their nutritional value and nothing else was going to be awful.

So why do it?

I wrote about my reasons for embarking on a Juice Cleanse in THIS POST. I also explain why I dislike the term "cleanse," but that I use it for lack of a better term.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Embarking on 5 Days of Juicing

One of my goals this year was to be kinder to myself, and that goal extended to my overall health and well-being. It's been up and down in each area of my life, but I've never let go of the intention to be a little more patient with myself, to put myself first sometimes, and to follow my passions. The truth is, this has been a very stressful year in many ways, some good and some bad.
I committed myself to focusing more on my freelance and blogging work, but with a toddler home full time I've been less than thrilled with my progress on the blog front. I know that I just need a little more patience before some extra time will open up for me, but it's been tough. At the same time, I also know that my little one won't be at home with me all the time forever, and that makes me a little bit sad too.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (August 4-8, 2014)

We're a few weeks out from moving day, and we've been packing up the house so that we're not scrambling at the last minute. Meals have been quick and easy, and this week will be no exception.

Hamburger Squash  

Monday: Gluten Free Hamburger Squash (I like this one because it looks good, and is a complete meal all in one. It's also easy to make.) RECIPE

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Milestone Birthdays and Gluten Free Cake

This past weekend we celebrated my sister and my father's birthdays with a joint birthday party. My sister and my dad were born on the same date in July, and both celebrated milestone birthdays this year. My sister turned 30 and my dad turned 65. My mom and I decided to prepare a big party for them both. We chose to do something a little different this year, since we typically just have an outdoor BBQ with hamburgers and steaks. Instead, we hired a catering service called La Cantina Catering to come and prepare the main meal for us, while we provided the appetizers and dessert.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (July 7-11, 2014)

Monday: Baked Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks in a Garlic Hoisin Sauce (I used VH Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce, and baked everything at 375F until cooked through) and Mixed Vegetables

Sunday, July 6, 2014

An Unexpected Day Out

Yesterday we had an appointment for someone to come and see our house, so we decided to take the kids out for a treat. Our gluten free son was completely dairy free for a long time, but is now able to digest small amounts of dairy, so we took him to Dairy Queen. I checked out the Dairy Queen Gluten Free menu online, and discovered a few items he could eat.  I have to admit, I got a little sad when I asked him if he wanted a sundae and he didn't know what one was.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday!

I haven't posted a Wordless Wednesday post in a while, but the urge struck me today, so here you go! Some shots from the last few months.

Enjoying a mini-cone on a hot day!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Recipe: Disaronno Stewed Cherries

It's fresh-fruit season here in Ontario, with strawberries and blueberries, peaches and cherries, and so much more starting to come into season. One of my favourite things to do with the kids is to go fruit picking and then come home and make a bunch of different recipes with them. Jams, sauces, popsicles, name it, we like to make it.

Cherries have always been a fruit that I prefer fresh, however. I can't stand anything "cherry flavoured" with that bitter taste that is somehow supposed to pass for the real sweetness of overly ripe cherries bursting with juice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (June 29-July 4, 2014)

This week is the first week that school is out for summer around here, and I'm home with both kids for the next 2 months. Meals are going to have to carry over into lunches the next day, and many meals are going to have to be flexible enough to be rolled over into something different. For example, leftover chicken breasts might turn into chicken fried rice, or chili might be strained and become burritos. With hot weather also comes the desire to spend less time in the kitchen, so cold dinners or meals that can be made in the slow cooker while I do something else are going to become popular around here. What are your favourite summer meals?

Here's our meal plan for the week!

Monday: Moroccan Lamb Soup with Chickpeas and Lentils

Recipe: Simple Coconut Pops

Coconut reminds me of lazy days lounging in a hammock, with the sounds of the ocean in the background. It also brings to mind Thai food, chocolatey desserts, and the smell of sunscreen. Over the past year, I've started using coconut in a variety of ways. I use the oil to soothe my son's dry skin, to cook, and as a substitute in baking. I use coconut milk in cooking to create incredible soups and rice dishes. I use shredded coconut in cooking and baking, and I use coconut water in my smoothies.

Coconut has a million uses, and now that it's fairly easy to find and not as expensive as it once was, I use it more than ever.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recipe: Raspberry Lemonade Pops

My sister made some raspberry lemonade a few weeks ago, and all I could think of was how refreshing and delicious it would taste on a hot day as a popsicle. I simplified the recipe so they only use 4 ingredients, and I'm so happy with the results.

I made my Raspberry Lemonade pops less sweet and more tart than typical lemonade, because that's the way I like my lemonade. you can easy change up how sweet they are by adding more sweetener or less lemon juice. They could be made using some vodka for a more adult pop, but these ones are kid-friendly!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (June 16-20, 2014)

This week's meal plan features food that is easy to reheat in a pinch, and one or two that could even be eaten cold. As usual, these dishes are family friendly, kid-approved, and gluten free!

Monday: Quiche (with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust) RECIPE

Some Father's Day Memories

It's been kind of busy around here with the house on the market, and as a result my blogging schedule has taken a bit of a hit. I like to blog daily, but that just hasn't been possible the past few weeks, so I apologize. However, life goes on, whether there are people wandering through my house or not, and yesterday we spent some great family time celebrating Father's Day with the family.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Celiac Baby is moving!

Celiac Baby is moving! A few months ago on my birthday I wrote a post about how this year I have decided to move ahead and implement some of the changes I've been needing to make in my life, called A Lifestyle Change for my Birthday.

While that post focused a lot on my health and the healthy changes I've been implementing, I have also been making big changes in other areas of my life.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni Winner!

I'm very happy to announce that Katrina B. is the winner of the 1 Year Supply of Catelli Gluten Free Pasta! A huge thank you to everyone who entered, and to Catelli for sponsoring the giveaway.

If you didn't win, no worries, I have more great opportunities planned soon!

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (June 9-13, 2014)

Our house has been listed for sale, which means that we need to be able to vacate the premises for viewings with little notice. As a result, this week's recipes are pretty much 1 pot meals that are easy to make and don't need a ton of pots and pans to put them together.

Monday: Green Pea Soup with Gluten Free Garlic Bread (2 cups frozen peas, 4 cups gluten free vegetable or chicken broth, some mint leaves if desired. Season to taste, then blend smooth.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (June 2-6, 2014)

Welcome to June! May was a busy month at my house, and June promises more of the same. This week I played around with sauces as condiments to a few of the meals in the Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan. I hope you try a few and let me know how you like them!

Monday: Center-cut pork chops seasoned with Thyme, and Roasted Asparagus with a Dijon Yogurt Sauce (for the sauce, mix 2 large tablespoons of plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Butternut Squash & Pear Soup with Blue Cheese and Campbell's No Salt Added Ready to Use Vegetable Broth

When I prepare my weekly meal plans, a soup recipe is included almost every week because soups are filling, inexpensive, and are simple to make using just one pot. Since I cook for the whole week in one go, I need recipes that aren't complicated to put together, and that my kids will enjoy. When I first started cooking gluten free, I was relieved to discover that Campbell's Vegetable Broth is gluten free. I've mentioned before that I use it regularly because I like the taste and it doesn't cost a fortune, unlike some specialty brands. So, when Campbell's contacted me to offer the opportunity to create a gluten free recipe using their new No Salt Added Ready to Use Vegetable Broth, I was happy to participate. I don't put a lot of salt in my dishes, but soup broth typically comes already salted, limiting the amount of control I have over how much gets added to the dish. I love that now I have a salt free option, providing more control over how much salt my family consumes.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (May 26-30, 2014)

This is turning out to be a beautiful weekend, with the sun shining and temperatures that finally make it feel like spring. I don't want to spend all day in the kitchen on days like this, and I imagine you don't either. Here are some simple gluten free meal ideas to get you in and out of the kitchen in no time.

Monday: Minestrone Soup with Gluten Free Garlic Bread

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Win a Year's Supply of Catelli Gluten Free Pasta!

It's no secret that I love pasta, and that I cook pasta for my family at least once a week. In fact, pasta is such a big part of my family's diet that when I first told my dad that my son would have to eat gluten free, he asked "But he can still eat pasta, right?" I can laugh now, but at the time, I honestly didn't know the answer to that question.

The good news is that today, the answer is a resounding YES, and the pasta tastes just as good as the pasta I grew up eating.

Thanks to Catelli, I can now share my love of pasta with you! I'm giving away a year's supply of Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni to one lucky Canadian reader!

Monday, May 19, 2014

7 Ways to Support Celiac Disease Awareness

Celiac Awareness Month is in full swing, and yet all I've heard reported in the news is one small study with 37 participants that suggests that gluten may not always be to blame in people who feel better when removing gluten from their diets, which is actually not new news. There have been past studies that show that in some patients it's actually a wheat allergy, in others it may be something else, and in some it's gluten that causes the various symptoms reported by patients.  Somehow the mainstream media has jumped on this and decided that Gluten Sensitivity doesn't exist. I didn't realize a study with 37 participants was sufficient to completely erase a recognized medical condition, but somehow I'm not surprised that this is how the study has been interpreted.

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (May 19-23, 2014)

It's a long weekend here in Ontario, and the weather is gorgeous so we've spent the whole day outside taking care of the backyard. It's finally ready for outdoor dinners and watching the kids run around. I hope you're enjoying your Monday, whether it's a holiday Monday or a regular one.

Monday: Salade Niçoise (Recipe) I love this simple salad. Perfect for a holiday Monday!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (May 12-16, 2014)

This meal plan is a little late, but after Mother's Day and my little guy's appointment at the Hospital for Sick Children, it fell to the bottom of the list. Still, I would hate to leave you hanging for a whole week, so here's what we're eating at our house this week!

Monday: Gluten Free Tri-Colour in a Simple Sauce with Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Cheese

Monday, May 12, 2014

Get Kombucha! Bottling my Kombucha the Quick and Easy Way

A few weeks ago I received my very own Continuous Brew Kit from Get Kombucha and started brewing my very own Kombucha tea at home. Much less expensive than store bought, a continuous brew kit allows for a batch of Kombucha to be brewing at all times, and also makes it easy to brew big batches and to bottle your tea without complicated materials.

I brewed my first batch and bottled it, but it didn't effervesce (bubble) exactly the way I wanted it to, so I waited until my second batch was ready to go to write this post. The second batch was amazing- tart yet a bit sweet, with just the right amount of bubbles and no vinegary aftertaste. My husband even started drinking it! The Gold Continuous Brewing Kit that I was sent for review included 6 single serving sized bottles to put the tea in, perfect for taking them with me on the go.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

I am a happy mom of two wonderful little boys, and a lucky daughter of a great mom.

On Friday night, we took my mom and the grandkids ceramic painting so they could paint a piece that my mom can keep and hang on her wall.

The kids' fingerprints are the flower petals.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tropical Fruit Salad with Honey Yogurt Dip

Mother's Day is coming up this weekend, so why not elevate a typical fruit salad with some exotic fruit and a gorgeous presentation?

This tropical-inspired fruit salad can be customized to your liking with any fruits you enjoy, but I like the mix of colours and flavours here. This is great on its own for a small gathering, or would be incredible as part of a dessert table for larger groups.

This is also a great kid-friendly recipe, providing the sweetness they crave without being full of added sugar or unhealthy ingredients. Mine polished this off within 5 minutes of taking the photos for this post. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gluten Free Weekly Meal Plan (May 5-9, 2014)

Good morning! I'm getting ready to head out to the Toronto Gluten Free Expo in a few minutes, and I can't wait to talk to the vendors and try out new products. If you're in the GTA and are looking for something fun to do, I highly recommend it!

Here's what we're eating this week.

Monday: Bacon, Apple, and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash (Recipe Coming Soon)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy Celiac Awareness Month

Welcome to Celiac Awareness Month!

This year, I feel as though Celiac Awareness month is needed more than ever. The fascination with all things gluten free has exploded over the last year or two, making gluten free products more popular and available than ever before, but unfortunately that hasn't translated into more awareness of Celiac disease and Gluten Sensitivity. 

Instead, the gluten free "trend" or "fad" has turned gluten free living into a bit of a joke, making it easy to mock. More worrisome, it has become easy to dismiss as a food trend that doesn't require any special knowledge or handling when preparing and serving gluten free foods to consumers. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thank You!

I have been watching in awe over the past few weeks as one of my Pinterest boards has jumped in popularity really, really, quickly. My Gluten Free Meal Plans board is a collection of all the weekly meal plans I post on the blog, and it is currently sitting at over 5,500 followers!

This is really exciting for me, and I'm thrilled to say that Pinterest has now chosen that board as one of the boards they recommend new users to follow.

And you know what? It's all thanks to you! Everyone who has followed my boards on Pinterest, pinned photos or pins to their own boards, repinned, etc. has helped to make make my Gluten Free Meal Plans board visible to others.

April Cookbook of the Month & Giveaway Winner

Before I get to the cookbook review, I want to give a huge congratulations to Alana J., the winner of the Blender Girl cookbook! Congratulations!

I chose The Blender Girl cookbook as April's cookbook of the month, and I'm so glad I did! This book is full of fun and easy gluten free and vegan recipes that anyone can make with the help of a blender.

While most recipes are liquid in nature, including smoothies, nut milks, soups, and dressings, not everything is of the liquid variety. In many cases, the sauce is the part made in the blender, while other ingredients are prepared in different ways.