wheat free holidays

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The Christmas party season is upon us and I'm starting to get anxious. This is my first holiday season being completely wheat free and I've quickly realized that I'm the worst dinner guest ever.

From wine and cheese parties brimming with spongy baguettes to cocktail parties filled with passed phyllo this and mini slider that to dinner parties with sweet holiday desserts, my stomach is churning just thinking about it all. I've been wheat free long enough and cheated enough times to know that I just can't eat that sh&!. It literally takes me 24-48 hours to recover from a single cracker (I know how pathetic!). So that said, for this party season my plan is to pre-eat or bring my own wheat free grub with me on the party circuit.

If you're hosting your own party and want to consider preparing a few allergen free dishes here are few courtesy of Zero8 , a restaurant in Montreal committed to being allergen free, well at least the top 8 allergens. They include wheat and other gluten containing grains, fish and shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy and sesame seeds.

 

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Oriental Style Quinoa Tabouli

You'll need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a few sprigs of mint, chopped
  • lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 5 tsp olive oil
  • pinch each of salt and pepper

Then you:

  1. Chill quinoa
  2. While quinoa is chilling dice tomatos, green onions and chop mint and coriander.
  3. Add herbs, tomatos and green onions to quino along with juice from 1/2 a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and let stand until ready to serve.[/print_this]

 

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Coconut Milk and Mango Puree Panna Cotta

You'll need:

  • 1 can coconut milk, certified allergen-free
  • 1 7g packet of gelatin, certified allergen-free
  • ¼ cup plus 4 tsp white sugar
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 mango, very ripe
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 capful rum, pure (unspiced and unflavoured)

Then you:

  1. Puree mango using a blender, add white sugar, brown sugar, lime juice and blend until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour mango puree into dessert glasses and set in fridge.
  3. In a pot heat coconut milk with 4 tsps of white sugar and rum, bring to a boil and set aside.
  4. Dissolve gelatin in a small amount of cold water.
  5. Mix geltin into hot coconut milk mixture and stir well.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Pour gelled coconut milk mixture over mango puree and place dessert glasses back in the fridge for at least 2 hours.[/print_this]

Done!

 

 

 

our thanksgiving feast

Image source

Last weekend the Hubs and I hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner complete with a turkey and all of the fixings (yes, even gluten free stuffing). I was feeling festive and I have this thing for setting tables so I scoured the web looking for different ways to fold napkins. Turns out there is A LOT of info out there, but I found this simple little site, with plenty of instructions on several folding options. I couldn't decide on just one so I settled on a combo of the Pocket Bag and the Fox. The step-by-step instructions with photos are super helpful and I must say the table looked really impressive when I was finished.

The dinner was a hit, fancy napkins and all but the finishing touch was the wheat free pumpkin pie I ordered from Tori's Bakeshop. I don't even really like pumpkin pie, but this made me love it! If you haven't been to Tori's yet, get your butt out to the east end, it's worth the drive!

Finally if you're wondering how I managed to tackle gluten free stuffing here's what I did.

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Gluten-free Stuffing

You'll need:

  • 2 gluten free baguettes (I used Udi french baguettes)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 apple peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp summer savoury (if you're lucky enough to have some fresh stuff)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

Then you:

  1. Cut up baguettes into cubes and set aside in a large bowl to dry out. I left the cubes out for several hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In a large skillet, melt half a cup of butter on medium heat and sautee onions, celery and apple until softened, but not brown.
  4. Remove from heat and season with summer savoury, salt and pepper.
  5. Add butter mixture to bread cubes and mix well with your hands.
  6. Pour stock over bread mixture and mix well again. I don't use the full 1/2 cup because I don't like wet stuffing but add as much or as little as you desire.
  7. Pour bread mixture into a roasting pan and pop in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

That's it!

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dunk-worthy gluten free chocolate chip cookies

Since I went off wheat over a year ago I have desperately missed the taste of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.  I've tested multiple recipes guaranteeing delicious results but none have been worthy of being dunked  into my cold glass of milk until today. Based on my year's worth of attempts, research and this recipe (that I modified) I think I have found the recipe that will become my go-to for gluten free chocolate chip cookies!

The Hubs said they tasted like the real deal and L'il E devoured his cookie in seconds. They're soft, chewy and buttery sweet! #Winning!

I know you want to try them.

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Dunk-worthy gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

You'll need:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (important - this gives your cookie that softness)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch (ditto for the tapioca starch)
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bag dark chocolate Hershey's Chipits

Then you:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.
  2. Mix butter and sugars using a handheld mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in vanilla extract and eggs and continue mixing until well blended.
  4. In a separate bowl mix rice flour, starches, baking soda, xantham gum and salt until well mixed.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until no flour is showing.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon heaping teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet leaving two inches between each cookie.
  8. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes.

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Do you think they're dunk-worthy?

 

tori's bakeshop

 

 

I've been wheat free almost a year now and I've never felt better or lighter. The cravings for spongy bread, muffins and cookies are long gone, but it's definitely been difficult to find a substitute when the sweet pangs strike.

Well, last Friday I'm afraid I was introduced to what could inevitably become my weakness - Tori's Bakeshop - a bakery dedicated to the dairy free, gluten free, wheat free and refined sugar free. The catch is, you would never know.

Over the most delicious gluten free, vegan chocolate chip cookie ever and an Americano, Miss Tori and I sat and chatted about owning a business and her tricks to delicious gluten free grub.

When Tori started eating a vegan diet eight years ago, all she wanted to do was recreate her favourites. With very little training as a baker, she experimented a lot and enrolled in a basic baking course, with the goal of one day opening her own bakeshop. Tired of irregular contract work in theatre production, she just went for it and opened up shop in March of this year.

An entrepreneur at heart, I love hearing fearless stories like this. I asked if she had any tips for people considering starting their own businesses and she said a) if you can, find a partner and b) work in the industry first. Working in a bakery gave her the foresight in terms of how much to bake and at what intervals and while she enjoys being solo, it is a lot of work doing the baking (starting at 4:00 am!) as well as  running the business side of things.

So, of course I asked what her secrets are to yummy gluten free baking and while she wouldn't share her secret recipes she reminded me that gluten free batter is always wetter than regular batter, "don't let the thick yogurt-like consistency scare you," she said. Also play around with alternative flour blends! She always has a stash of sorghum flour, brown rice flour, millet flour, arrowroot starch, and white rice flour on hand.

Next time you're in the Queen East area and have a hankering for a wheat free cinnamon bun or a blueberry lemon scone check out this awesome find. Tori also offers custom order cakes - perfect for those first birthday parties - as well as a selection of Tealish teas and espresso-based drinks. Over the next few weeks she'll  be offering gluten free sandwiches and gluten free loaves of bread. Yum!

Best of luck to Tori and thanks for the treats!

 

 

grill-worthy quinoa burgers

My backyard, a quinoa veggie burger, sweet potato fries and bevvies. Yum!

On Saturday night we had a little backyard BBQ action, but it was of the meatless variety. I love the challenge of a vegetarian dinner guest!

I wanted to keep things casual and I wanted something that everyone would enjoy - even the meat lovers - so I decided to give quinoa burgers a try. I scoured the web for a good recipe and I found one over at the The Vegan Project.

This recipe has lots of flavour, is filling and kept their form on the grill (no crumbling!). I also whipped them up in under 30 minutes. So, if you're having veggie company this summer, keep this recipe in your back pocket, they blow the pre-made veggie burgers out of the water and you're left looking like superstar.

[print_this]Quinoa Burgers

You'll need:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup oats (not instant)
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp cajun spice
  • 1 tsp  paprika
  • 2 tbsp tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Brown rice flour for dusting
  • Olive oil

Then you:

  1. In a food processor mix garlic, onion and chickpeas until well mixed but not pureed, then add oat and mix some more.
  2. Remove the mixture into a large mixing bowl and mix in parsley, quinoa, spices, tamari and chickpea flour until well blended.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and put in fridge for 15 minutes.
  4. Form the mixture into six patties, spray with a little olive oil and dust with rice flour.
  5. Heat on grill for five minutes per side or until you see the grill marks.
  6. Serve with all the fixings. I highly recommend hot mango chutney!

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Happy veggie grilling!

comfort food

Despite all of the Easter feasting this weekend I was in the mood for some good 'ol comfort food last night for dinner. So, I baked up the ultimate in that category - Mac 'n Cheese. Of course it was a classy spin on the tried and true, courtesy of Gwynny's awesome cookbook My Father's Daughter.

Since we're wheat free I used brown rice elbow pasta and GF breadcrumbs. I also added a layer of salty-licious prosciutto on top. So crispy!

Are you feeling the comfort food vibes?

[print_this]Gluten-free Mac n' Cheese

You'll need:

  • 1 lb macaroni (I use Tinkyada, it's the best rice pasta I've tried)
  • 1 generous cup mascarpone
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff people!)
  • 1/2 cup milk (if you have homo milk use that)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use GF bread crumbs)

Then you:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Boil macaroni for 2 minutes less than directed on the package.
  3. While macaroni is cooking heat mascarpone, milk, nutmeg and Parmesan over medium heat until it all melts together.
  4. Drain the pasta and pour into a baking dish.
  5. Pour cheese mixture all over pasta.
  6. Cover top with prosciutto and a mix of bread crumbs and Parmesan.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.

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We topped our individual servings with peppery arugula and green peas. A perfect treat for the whole family!

 

maple ginger granola

My breakfast staple for years has been my own homemade granola, but when I went gluten free in August it was time to say b-bye. I've been dappling with a variety of gluten free granolas and I've tried making my own using quinoa flakes instead of oats, but none of them have comparde to my tried and true recipe.

Last Friday I picked up the highly coveted Food & Drink magazine from the LC and as I flipped through, ripping out all the amazing recipes, I zeroed in on one for Maple Ginger Granola. Technically it's not gluten-free because I'm using regular oats, but I did manage to keep it wheat free and let me tell you, it's amazing. The ginger, maple and orange blend together so nicely and leave it tasting just sweet enough.

Want to try?

[print_this]Maple Ginger Granola

You'll need:

  • 8 cups large flake oats (you could use gluten free oats if you really want to go for it)
  • 1.5 cups chopped almonds
  • 1 cup wheat bran (I omitted this ingredient because I'm wheat free)
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup flaxseeds (ground up or whole)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (I used real toasted coconut. You can find it at most health food stores.)
  • 2 tsp. cinammon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1 orange
  • 1.25 cups maple syrup (make sure it's the real stuff, none of that Aunt Jemima sugar water)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups dried fruit (I just used dried cranberries, but you could do raisins, prunes, dates, apricots...)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger

Then you:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. Stir oats with nuts, wheat bran (if using), pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, coconut, spices and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Finely grate orange peel into a medium pot, then squeeze juice from that orange into pot and add maple syrup and oil. Heat until hot, then stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour heated liquid mixture over oat mixture and stir to coat.
  5. Spread into two greased roasting pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden.
  6. Stir in dried fruit and ginger, then let cool and store in an airtight container.

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It lasts up to two weeks at room temp or you can freeze it if you don't think you'll be able to eat it all.

What is your favourite granola recipe?

 

 

wheat and dairy free fudgey chocolate brownies

I'm loving today! Just chilling at home with my baby boy and the Hubs.

After just two days back at work I feel emotionally drained (I missed L'il E like crazy!) so I baked a batch of chocolate fudgy brownies to help mend my aching heart. The sweet, warm aroma of baked chocolatey goodness is swirling around my house right now, but you would never know that these brownies are actually pretty healthy (thanks to my Gwynny cookbook!) Made with spelt flour, no dairy and no refined sugar you really can't go wrong with these tasty treats.

Want to try them too?

[print_this]Chocolate Fudgey Brownies

You'll need:

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (save the rest to drink with your brownies!)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk or soy milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup high quality chocolate chips (I use Camino Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips)

Then you:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9"x11" baking dish
  2. Sift spelt flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together remaining wet ingredients.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to over mix.
  5. Pour the batter into your greased baking dish and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool.

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Enjoy with some tea, coffee or almond milk. Yum!

 

dairy free carrot ginger soup

A good carrot ginger soup recipe is hard to find. Some are too thin and unsatisfying while others are too creamy and some just have no flavour at all. Recently I've been making this dairy-free version and I'm loving it. It's thick and filling (cashews give it its richness), full of delicious spice and just the right amount of carroty ginger goodness. Plus, L'il E laps it right up.

Give it a try!

[print_this]Carrot Ginger Soup

You'll need:

  • 2lbs carrots (one bag)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 cups chopped onion (approx. 2 smallish onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp ginger (cut off a 2 inch nub)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fennel
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup cashews

Then you:

  1. Fill large pot with 4 cups of water and add chopped carrots, bring to a boil and let carrots cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. While carrots are cooking sautee onions in a pan until they are clear, then add chopped garlic and ginger and sautee for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add spices, salt and lemon juice to onion mixture and stir until seasoning covers everything.
  4. Add onion spice mixture to pot of carrots and water.
  5. Add cashews, stir and then puree with a blender stick.

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It's so easy and delicious!

healthier blueberry muffins

I recently made these awesome banana-blueberry muffins and yes they're gluten free. So, since my healthy blueberry muffin recipe post is one of the most visited on this blog I thought I would share the latest. Trust me, these will become your new go-to. They're wheat-free and low-sugar. L'il E loves them too!

Want to try?

[print_this]Wheat-free Blueberry Muffins

You'll need:

  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1/4 cups ground flaxseeds
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Then you:

  1. Preheat over to 325 F and prepare your muffin tin.
  2. Combine ground almonds, flaxseeds, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl mash the banana, stir in the eggs, yogurt and olive oil.
  4. Add banana mixture to dry mixture and mix together. Fold in blueberries.
  5. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Cool in pans for 10-15 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

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Enjoy and keep them in the fridge.

Yum!