Carter approved: Mum Mums

As I spend a lot of time talking about my grandson, I thought I would post a series called “Carter approved”.  My first Carter approved product is Mum Mums, a rice-based teething biscuit that comes in various flavors…

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Mum Mums are free of the most problematic allergens, (gluten, wheat, eggs, milk, soy, sesame, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts and fish)a as well as verified non-GMO. Mum Mums are baked and contain minimal amounts of salt, sugar, fats and oils.  Rice has always been considered an ideal first solid food for babies as it is easily digestible, yet contains many vitamins and minerals.

 

 

We all know how teething babies want to put everything in their mouths; these biscuits are no exception. They literally melt in the mouths of babies, although their claim to be mess free is suspect…

 

The banana flavor of Mum Mums is Carter approved!  Buy your Mum Mums

 HERE

 

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Sensations kettle style potato chips from Sobeys

My new favorite potato chips come grocery stores.  They are  Sensations by Compliments brand, which is equivalent to President’s Choice at Loblaws, Independent Grocer or Superstores…

 

These extra crispy, kettle style chips are sensational (pun intended) tasting and always reasonably priced.   I am particularly fond of the black pepper & lime, and sweet chili & sour cream flavours pictured below.  There are many other varieties to choose from too, such as jalapeno, hickory barbecue, balsamic vinegar & caramelized onion, sea salt & malt vinegar, and more…

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The best part is that these Sensations kettle potato chips are gluten-free and processed in a gluten-free environment, with no artificial flavours or colours to trigger my food allergies…

 

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Sobeys’ slogan is Better Food For All; these Sensations kettle chips are definitely better for me.  Unfortunately for many of you, Sobeys locations are limited to Canada.  For you Canadian readers, give these chips a try soon, I’m sure you will love them too.  Your biggest dilemma will be deciding which variety to try first!

 

Avoiding Wheat? Read the Labels!

Another reblog from the first days of my blog (2012) that I started to share my experiences with my wheat allergy…

Source: Avoiding Wheat? Read the Labels!

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

courtesy of Wikimedia commons

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but do you believe it?  I do.   Apples are in incredibly easy, inexpensive and delicious way to add fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your diet.

Apples have been around forever, since the days of Adam and Eve…

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courtesy of Wikimedia commons

 

Apples are fat-free, cholesterol free, gluten-free, low in sodium, and full of fiber (with the peel on), pectin, vitamins, flavonoids, minerals and antioxidants. One apple contains approximately five grams of fiber and just eighty calories.

Doctors have suspected for years that constipation, caused by insufficient fiber in the diet, is at the root of many illnesses. Conditions such as appendicitis, varicose veins, diverticulitis, hernias and hemorrhoids are all thought to be caused by strained bowel movements. Most people know that fiber can alleviate these strained bowel movements. An apple a day can go a long way to keeping your body regular and free from constipation. My children can attest to the fact that anytime they complained of a stomach ache, I would always ask them when the last time they had a good poop, then prepare them a large bowl of sliced apples (with the peel still on) sprinkled with cinnamon. See a previous post

Pectin is a carbohydrate found in apples that helps our intestines when diarrhea is a problem.  This is because pectin causes food to congeal, just as it does when you use it to make jam or jelly.  Most mothers are familiar with the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, unsweetened applesauce and toast when their children have been ill with diarrhea.  Most of these ingredients are bland and easy on the stomach.  The applesauce (apples without the fiber of the peel) is primarily included in this diet because of the pectin.

Apples are full of magnesium and potassium which help control your blood pressure.   Quercetin is a flavonoid found in apples that protects your artery walls as well as your lungs.  Boron, a trace mineral that is absorbed from the soil, is also found in apples and has been shown to be beneficial for your joints.  Antioxidants are helpful to prevent disease and even to stop the growth of cancer cells once they are present in your system.

Now that you know just how good apples are for you, be sure to eat an apple a day to stay healthy or get healthier, starting today!

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courtesy of Wikimedia commons

 

 

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Naturopathic Care

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If this post sounds familiar, it is because it is an updated version of one of my first posts, way back in January of 2012…

For about a year before the post, I noticed a significant decrease in my energy level and suffered from constant “brain fog”.  I could not seem to concentrate on anything for very long and became distracted very easily.  Most people I complained to shrugged and laughed saying “it’s just age” As I had just turned 50, I found that hard to swallow!

After a complete physical from my G.P. I was told my iron stores or ferritin levels were very low and I was put on an iron supplement, which constipated me but did very little for my ferritin levels.  My hormone levels were within the normal range; so I was classified as perimenopausal.  It was also suggested by two different doctors that I was suffering from depression. I also found that hard to believe, so I started digging deeper…

I found a naturopath online and went to see her.  Kandis Lock   Although I had to pay for this visit (my health insurance does not cover naturopathic treatments) it was well worth it.  She listened to my “story” and set up a plan.  She suggested testing for food allergies and/or sensitivities, again at my own expense. I had suspected for years that I am sensitive to many foods with frequent bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhea.  I had the option of eliminating foods from my diet to see if I felt different/better (which could take months or even years) or a blood test.   I agreed to the blood test and received results within two weeks: I am allergic to asparagus and wheat protein.   Now asparagus is pretty easy to eliminate from my diet, but wheat?  Wheat is in everything!  Luckily I am not allergic to gluten as many others are so my diet isn’t quite as restricted. Gluten free products (which means no wheat to me) are sold in most grocery stores these days.  I can eat barley, oats, corn, rice, rye etc. so have switched my pastas and breads to these grains.

Fast forward to almost three years later…

I feel more energetic, have less stomach cramps, and feel healthier.  At the time it was suggested that I undergo further testing to determine other foods (dairy, eggs etc) that I may react to that were not covered in the original testing panel. I declined that option at the time, preferring to deal with one major change at a time.  Now that I know how much eliminating wheat improved my health, I am thinking of undergoing more tests.   I do have another complete physical examination scheduled with my GP also, so will find out my current blood levels of ferritin, cholesterol, and hormones.

The moral of this story is recognize that your body is providing warning signals when you experience symptoms like stomach cramps, brain fog, lethargy, and low energy levels.  It is up to you to do something about it!

Leftover Soup

I call my homemade soup leftover soup for the obvious reason; many of the ingredients of each batch are leftovers from my fridge or freezer.  Meat, vegetables, broth, gravy, rice, quinoa; anything and everything goes.

I make my own broth by keeping the pan drippings from roast chicken, turkey or beef in a container in my freezer, all mixed together.  As soon as each addition to the container starts to freeze, i scrape off and discard the fat that has risen to the top.  I also add any excess liquid from steamed vegetables to the bucket in the freezer. Then when the day comes to make soup, out comes the container to use for the base of the soup.  This is a simple, healthy and delicious way to make broth without added artificial flavors or preservatives.  If you are really organized and efficient, you can pour the broth into ice cube trays to be frozen individually instead of all together in a bucket.  This works well when you only need a few spoonfuls of broth for a recipe. I prefer the bucket method.

The broth is flavored with the roasted onions and garlic that I always add to  the bottom of the roasting pan before cooking meat.  The onions and garlic brown up nicely when cooked this way, adding color and flavor to the pan drippings.  These pan drippings can be used to baste the roasting meat and then to either make gravy when the meat is done cooking, or to add to my broth bucket in the freezer.

The other thing I freeze for homemade soup is chicken or turkey bones.  When the carcass is almost picked clean after a roast dinner, i stick it in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer until soup day.  Simmered in a pot of water with added spices such as cilantro, basil or bay leaves, it makes a great base for soups too.  If it appears too watery, I just add some of the broth from  my bucket.

I have also frozen broccoli stalks to add to simmering soup stock for added flavor.  I store them in a freezer bag as well after removing them from the florets anytime I serve broccoli as a vegetable. Once cooked, the stocks can be pureed in a blender to thicken the soup or chopped and added to the finished soup in chunks.  It is amazing what nutritious vegetables you can hide in a soup!

Once I have the base prepared, I add rice, quinoa or beans for texture and heartiness, as well as any other fresh vegetables I have on hand such as grape or cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  Frozen corn is always an option too for added crunch to the soup.  Occasionally I will roast a batch of mushrooms, onions and peppers to add to the soup pot.  Just before serving, I often add a few tablespoons of jalapeno flavored tzatziki to give the soup a little kick.  See a previous post on this miracle ingredient Skotidakis

The only problem with this leftover soup is, no two batches of soup are ever the same!  When one turns out particularly well, it is difficult to remember what exactly was in it.  My mother-in-law used to love my  homemade soup, but would get quite frustrated when I couldn’t produce a recipe for her to follow to make her own.

The Best Gluten-Free Pizza

 

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Since I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy almost three years ago, pizza is probably what I miss most on my wheat free diet.  I have tried numerous gluten-free versions of pizza, but none of them were very satisfying until I tried the gluten-free pizza made by Sabatasso’s pizzeria and purchased at Costco.  The cheese pizzas come in a package of two and cook up beautifully so the crust is indeed thin and crispy as the package boasts.  I add my own toppings by roasting vegetables on a baking sheet while the pizza is cooking, then adding the veggies to the pizza for the last 5 minutes of the required cooking time.  I use 1 red pepper, 1/4 spanish onion and 4 sliced  mushrooms, tossed with olive oil and crushed garlic.  I love the carmelized vegetables with the melted cheese and crispy crust…delicious!

The Best Gluten-free Chicken Chili Recipe

A few days ago I made the best gluten-free chicken chili in my slow cooker.  My husband said it was the best “soup” he has ever tasted.  Regardless of what you call it, chili or soup, it was fantastic.  The only problem is, as usual, i did not follow a recipe, so the measurements I am giving you are approximations only.  These quantities are for my family of five with leftovers (hopefully) for the next day…

-5 uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

-2 cans white kidney beans, well rinsed and drained

2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms

-1 cup chopped spanish onion

-2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes

-1 cup roasted red peppers (cut up two sweet red peppers, toss in a bowl with olive oil, bake the peppers on a cookie sheet at 400 until they start to turn black at the edges)

-2 cups green tea (i know, sounds gross, but I didn’t have any fresh chicken broth and needed some liquid, not to mention green tea is good for you!)

-2 tsp each chili powder and curcumin (or more chili powder if you like it HOT)

-2 tsp minced garlic

I cooked the above ingredients for 6 hours on the low setting of my slow cooker, then removed the chicken breasts, chopped them up, and returned them to the pot.  At this point I also squished the tomatoes against the side of the slow cooker to make them burst.  I then let the concoction simmer for another hour on low heat.

Approximately 20 minutes before serving, I turned off the heat on the slow cooker, and then added 1 cup of jalapeno flavored Greek yogurt, (see my last post about this amazing product http://lorieb.com/2013/11/10/my-favorite-gluten-free-secret-ingredient-skotidakis-jalapeno-flavored-greek-yogurt/) and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  I buy the yogurt at Costco and use it in many recipes instead of sour cream or cream cheese.  It provides a nice, mildly spicy flavor and adds much less fat.  This is my secret ingredient that I use to thicken any sauces, soups, and gravies without adding gluten.

You can serve this chicken chili up in a bowl with a sprinkling of shredded cheese or a dollop of the greek yogurt on top, or even on a plate over a bed of rice.  Left over the next day, this chicken chili tastes even better as is often the case with many stew, chili, or soup recipes.  That is if there are any leftovers to be found!

My Favorite Gluten-Free Secret Ingredient…Skotidakis Jalapeno Flavored Greek Yogurt

I have been using this jalapeno flavored Greek probiotic yogurt made by Skotidakis in many gluten-free recipes lately.  I love the kick it gives to stews, soups, and pasta sauces, blending well without clumping or separating.   Because it is made from yogurt, there is much less fat involved than the sour cream or cream cheese called for to make the creamy sauces in many recipes.  An equal substitution of the cream cheese or sour cream for this yogurt alternative is simple and healthy…

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As I believe it was intended for, it also makes a great dip for chips or raw veggies and a tasty spread for wraps, sandwiches, hamburgers and soft tacos.  I buy it at Costco, in a twin-pack, but I have also seen it sold individually at other grocery stores.  It also comes in a plain flavor, but the jalapeno is my favorite…

Moe’s Southwestern Grill: Another Gluten-Free Fast Food Option

Whenever I am travelling for a hockey tournament  I always find it difficult to find gluten-free fast food options.  This past weekend, at a tournament in Rochester New York,  I discovered Moe’s Southwestern Grill:  http://www.moes.com/about/   Moe’s has an eat in (nothing fancy) or take out option, and every meal is served with a complimentary serving of tortilla chips and salsa.

Moe’s reminded me of Subway restaurants where you get to choose the toppings on your sub or salad.  The procedure was the same as Subway as well; you choose what you want your ingredients in: a tortilla wrap for burritos, a bowl for burrito bowls, or a crispy bowl shaped tortilla shell for salads.  Of course, only the burrito  bowls are gluten-free, but it was great to have an option.

I love the ingredients in a burrito, and was thrilled to custom make one for myself.  I chose chicken, beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, black olives, grilled mushrooms and grilled sweet peppers, with their new chimichurri (Argentinian recipe with cilantro flavor) sauce. I don’t think the grilled mushrooms and peppers are typical in a burrito, but the combination was delicious.

My only complaint is that there are no Moe’s locations here in Canada!