Another food intolerance

I have discovered another food intolerance, the hard way.  I have known for a while that many artificial flavors and ingredients in food items trigger bad reactions in my gastrointestinal system.  This past weekend I narrowed a particularly bad bout of stomach cramps and diarrhea down to the ingestion of red food color.

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I know it had to be the food coloring because I was very careful what I ate that day.  I hosted a baby shower for my daughter-in-law and prepared most of the food myself.  As I and a few other guests are wheat or gluten intolerant I made sure there were plenty of gluten free choices on the table.  I made my favourite gluten free biscotti, but to fancy them up for the occasion, I dipped them in white chocolate that I had tinted pink.  A few drops of red food color in the melted white chocolate resulted in a pretty pink color, perfect for the baby shower menu.  Unfortunately for me, those few drops of red food color did me in.  Because I had several of the biscotti (did I mention they are my favourite?) throughout the day, my allergic symptoms lasted much longer than they usually do.

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I don’t know which of the ingredients in the red food color (apparently red dye #40 is a common culprit)  I reacted to, but I will be avoiding any food tinted red (or pink) from now on!

 

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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!

 

What’s better than your own tomato harvest?

What can get better than harvesting your own tomatoes?  Taking home someone else’s tomato harvest!  I was cleaning up a client’s garden recently and came across a few grape tomato plants in amongst the perennial flowers and shrubs. I picked them off the frost-bitten vines and left the tomatoes in the sun to dry while I finished working on the garden.  Sun dried tomatoes must need a whole lot of sun to dry them out as these grape tomatoes were still soggy and soft three hours later.  My client didn’t want to bother collecting and cleaning the tomatoes to use in her kitchen, so I brought them home with me.  I shared my bounty with another client that lives next door to the tomatoes…

I took my share of the grape tomatoes home, washed and strained them, then cooked them up in a pasta sauce for dinner…

I sauteed crushed garlic, onions, olives and turmeric in olive oil for the main ingredients, added cooked and drained pasta (gluten-free for my wheat allergy) then stirred in a beaten egg and parmesan cheese to make the sauce creamy.  I seem to use turmeric in just about everything these days, since I read it is a powerful anti-oxidant.  I would have added roasted red peppers if I had some in my fridge to roast that day.  The pasta dish was reasonably good, although I think I left too many green tomatoes in the sauce as it had a bit of a sweet and sour taste.

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!

Christmas Magic: Inedible Gingerbread Cookies turn into Trifle

Last week, with the rest of my Christmas baking, I made a batch of gingerbread cookies that turned out awful.   They were much too strong tasting. My husband said they had a licorice taste to them, but I know it was just too much ginger, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. I had halved the recipe I found online for a gluten-free version of my favorite cookies, but half the amount of spices called for was still way too much. Half of the recipe still made a ton of cookies, especially when no one was eating them. Normally cookies disappear fast around here…

While wondering what to do with the inedible gingerbread cookies, I had a brainstorm and looked for a gingerbread trifle recipe online. Like the old adage, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade! I found a few recipes to guide me, and then modified them to include  ingredients I already had in the house…

After crumbling cookies in a glass bowl for the bottom layer, I added ice-cream for the second layer. I used a Chapman’s Premium Ice Cream named Holiday Twist, a delicious blend of mint and chocolate ice creams with candy cane chunks, available only at Christmas time.   More crumbled cookies made up the next layer, which was then topped off with whipped cream and then sprinkled with hot chocolate powder.  The hot chocolate powder was Presidents Choice holiday version, also containing mint flavor and chunks of candy cane.

The end result was not too bad, a little sweet for my tastes, but it disappeared faster than the cookies alone would have. The cookie layer was still quite gingery, but softened by the sweetness and creaminess of the other ingredients.  The hot chocolate powder made the top layer too gritty in texture; in retrospect I realized that I should have mixed the hot chocolate powder with hot milk or water first to dissolve the crystals to give the trifle a smoother texture…

 

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!

Gluten Free at Subway

I have noticed recently the addition of chopped salads to the menu at Subway restaurants; a bonus to those of us that are looking for gluten- free meals on the go. When we are on the road, whether at a hockey tournament or on vacation, I find it difficult to eat well, as the gluten-free options are limited.

The salads at Subway work the same way as ordering a sub; you pick the toppings and dressings. The difference is that they present the chopped ingredients to you, including meat if you wish, in a salad bowl instead of loading them on a gluten loaded bun.

Prices vary, depending on whether or not you choose to add meat and/or avocado, but you can get a large, delicious, custom made, gluten-free salad for under $10

Congratulations Subway, for responding to the increasing demand for healthy, gluten-free meals for the busy family. It sure makes my life easier!

The Best Iced Tea Recipe…

I can’t remember where I saw this recipe, but I tweaked it slightly producing the best iced tea ever, just in time for summer…

  • four green tea bags steeped in 4 cups of boiling water
  • 1/4 cup 100% blueberry or pomegranate (or a mixture) juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Stir all ingredients together, then pour into a pitcher of ice cubes.  Due to allergies and/or sensitivites, I make sure I use 100% green tea with no added flavor or preservatives.  Even “natural flavor” is not natural to me!  The same goes for the juices and maple syrup; they must be 100% (no sugar or artificial ingredients)   If you are feeling really fancy, use frozen strawberries, mangoes or blueberries instead of ice cubes.

If you have been following my other posts, all of the ingredients in this recipe are on the alkaline side of the chart, meaning they are healthy, so drink up…

Lorieb is the mother of three sons, residing in Kanata, Ontario, Canada.  She is the proud owner of GARDENS4U, and spends most of her time designing, planting, and restoring gardens.  Her other interests include reading and writing.  Please check out her website at www.gardens4u.ca