September 30, 2011

Green Beans with GF Breadcrumbs

I really enjoy green beans and summer is the perfect time for them (you can still find them at some of the markets). Once they appear at the market I always have a bowl in my fridge. Unfortunately, The Honey doesn’t feel the same way about them so it can take me some time to get through the bowl.

Fresh green beans taste so crisp and have a taste to them that cannot be found even in the best frozen vegetables. Usually I just like them steamed with some fresh ground pepper, but once in a while I’ll make up this. It makes my work lunches seem just a tad special.

Green Beans with bread crumbs        Serves 4        15 minutes
1 lb fresh green beans, washed & trimmed
¼ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
¼ cup olive oil
¼ tsp each, garlic powder, basil, oregano
¼ cup grated parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
Steam the beans until tender. Place beans in a serving bowl & mix in the rest of the ingredients, except parmesan. Toss until coated. Sprinkle with parmesan & serve.

September 14, 2011

Ahhh Spring

As the days begin to get cooler, the mornings being darker and the sun setting earlier I’ve been thinking about how summer began. I had made a few trips to visit my family in Southwestern Ontario, so many in fact that my dad joked that he had seen more of me in the first half of 2011 than in all of 2010. It’s a long drive, especially if you get stuck in Toronto traffic (if you don’t know, imagine).

My summer began in May with a drive to my sister’s to help her pack up her house. She had sold her house and was moving in a few weeks. She hadn’t really moved before (in and out of uni rez doesn’t really count); she knew she needed boxes and that’s it. She needed a pro and so she called me. When I walked in her house all I saw were boxes – paper boxes, large boxes, collapsed boxes – you name it. ‘You told me to get lots of boxes’ she said.

We were busy packing all weekend. Some nights were late because we just wanted to get one more box packed, while other nights we went to bed early from exhaustion. Even our other sister came by for a visit, on the condition she help pack. Being May and spring arriving a bit earlier than in Ottawa the windows were open and the fresh spring air helped keep our energy up. There were many glasses of wine, stories and laughter.

Moving can be tricky. Not only is there all the stuff you see, but there’s also the stuff you don’t see – under the bathroom sink and the fridge and freezer. Luckily my sister didn’t have an assortment of products under her bathroom sink, but her fridge and freezer had been stocked when the sold sticker was put on the sign. Since then, she had been slowly working her way through everything. No eating out for quite a while and only the minimal from the store.

I had taken a chocolate cake mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen with me figuring we may need a chocolate or sweet fix.

Putting them into cupcake form ensured we didn’t eat them all ourselves and some were handed out for my dad and nephews. The cupcakes were chocolaty and moist, and so easy to make.


Did I mention it was May? BBQing and dining alfresco was wonderful as it was still too chilly for that in Ottawa. It gave us a chance to take a break and relax (just like the wine bottle says).

Our fresh salad helped us finish us some salad dressing and our grilled chicken opened up some real estate in the freezer. Those gherkins didn’t last too long either. One jar down, two more to go (Yes, my sister is like me; she likes pickles too). It was so nice sitting outside that it was difficult getting up to go back to work.

Our first morning started off well and with a great breakfast too. Since my sister had given away her baking supplies I picked up a package of Bob’s Redmill pancake mix.

Crepes were the perfect way to begin our day and sliced up with some fresh bananas and reduced frozen berries (warm them up until the juice thickens up a bit) then drizzled with some maple syrup. Yummm. With delicious meals all weekend I didn’t mind helping pack.

Boxes began stacking up in a side room and shelves, cupboards, and closets were emptied. By the end of the weekend all that was left were two bedroom closets and under her bathroom sink. There were also a number of boxes for a garage sale she was going to have the following weekend. When I left, my sister had a few little plates, bowls, cups and some silverware to get her through the last two weeks. She was finishing a period of her life and moving on and seeing empty spots made it sink in a bit more. I have yet to see her new digs, but she’s settling in to her new place and her new job. She’s happy as she’s learning about her new neighbourhood and her friendly neighbours.

If she’s happy, I’m happy.

September 13, 2011

Natural Pantry

I’ve often written about the Natural Pantry and the great things I find there. One thing I haven’t mentioned is their great homemade products. Many people know about it as the pantry often sells out, but if you don’t, you need to visit on your next shopping trip.

While I’m a happy little baker and cook, it’s nice sometimes to just pick something up. For those sweet things I just want a few and if I make them at home, then I have a dozen or two to find a home for (and hopefully not in my tummy). The pantry must have a great baking staff and have tested their products because what they have is really really good. In the time I’ve been shopping at the pantry, I’ve only had one thing that wasn’t that great and maybe it just wasn’t meant to be (that breakfast bar just didn’t do it for me). So they have a pretty good track record.

The date squares were nice and moist. The flavour was sweet without being too much.

Their garlic and herb focaccia is great with a salad or some soup.

The bagels are a little on the tough and chewy side, but they were still a welcome treat to get me through seminars.

The bread: The regular rice bread is really nice and I enjoy it when I don’t have time to make a loaf for myself. The cheese and raisin cinnamon are just okay.

The vanilla cupcakes are really good and surprisingly better than the chocolate.

The cookies are nice with great flavour and not too crunchy.

Their pizza crust is perfect for one person and has the perfect balance of soft and crispy.


The cabiatta buns are wonderful and are perfect for sandwiches. I’m always afraid my bread (and theirs too) won’t hold together for my lunch, but this one always does. It’s also the perfect size for a burger.

This isn’t a complete list of all the homemade baked goods at the Natural Pantry, but it’s a good start. Some locations also carry different items, so if the location near you doesn’t have your favourite, you can ask if they can deliver it. They also have a delivery schedule at their stores (and through their website) so you know when items come in fresh.

Located on Richmond Rd in Westboro, Hazeldean Rd in Kanata, and at Billings Bridge Plaza.

September 12, 2011

Zucchini Squares

It seems that I just can’t get enough of zucchini this year. It can’t be too bad though as it’s good for you.

Last week when the weather was a little chilly I made some zucchini squares. The recipe makes quite a bit, so if there is only one or two of you, the leftovers make a great lunch with a salad or you can freeze them without any consequences.

Zucchini Squares       Makes 1 dozen          40 minutes to make
3 cups zucchini, very thinly sliced
¼ cup minced onion
2 tsp parsley
½ tsp oregano
¾ tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup gf flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbs melted butter
½ cup vegetable oil (or less)
Mix zucchini, onion, parsley, oregano, salt, garlic & cheese. Stir in eggs & mix well. Mix separately the flour, baking powder, pepper & seasoned salt. Combine with the zucchini mixture then add butter & oil. Pour into a greased 13x9 dish & bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes or until golden. Cut into squares & serve warm.

September 11, 2011

Alone With Allergies

I was on my own last weekend and as much as I love The Honey I appreciate some time to myself, especially when I’m teaching 40hrs a week. It was an extra long weekend too since my student had Friday off. So many errands and tasks got done that I felt a sense of relief at the end of the day. With the sun shining Saturday I had a nice leisurely and enjoyable day planned.

After a little breakie at the Wellington Diner (who serve gluten-free toast) I wandered down to the GCTC for the first Urban Craft, the monthly craft show.


It was the first of many to come and there was a variety of vendors who had great products available. I picked up some macaroons from the UrbanBaking Co. Whether the macaroon is the French version or the coconut I always enjoy them. The lavender was my favourite.


And a chocolate mint cupcake from Auntie Loos. Oddly enough, there’s something about her gluten-free goodies that keep me going back. I think it’s hope. They aren’t always quite right, but I try them again in hopes that they’ve improved. This cupcake was the best one she’s had. My only disappointment is that the only mint was in the icing.

After doing a few more errands I ventured to the Main St Market. Of course, now that summer is over I have a chance to go and even though I had fresh produce at home, I still had to go. It was after noon by the time I got there and I still walked away with some goodies. By then I was beginning to feel a little parched so I was more than happy to buy a glass of lavender lemonade. I didn’t taste much lavender, but it was still refreshing on a hot day.

The humongous zucchini also caught my eye. They were huge!!! They reminded me of my mom’s when I was a child – perfect for her zucchini bread.

After walking around a bit I picked up a lemon cucumber to try (lemon due to the colour, not the flavour) and some elk sausage, steak and burgers. I’ll let you know what I think. I also went over to a gluten-free vendor, 5Cupcakes, to see what she had. There were some cookies still left (which were okay), but I talked Simone into selling me some of her butter tart rejects (the ones not pretty enough to sell). They still looked fine as they weren’t squished and they tasted just as good. Unlike other butter tarts, they were tall and the pastry was light and flaky. The filling was delicious as well. Next Saturday I may return and go earlier to see what other goodies she has.


As I left I regretted buying coffee a few days before as I really wanted to try coffee from the Happy Goat. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the name. This just means I need to return to pick some up.

And where do the allergies come in? Sunday became a total write-off as over Saturday evening my sinuses began to fill and my head began to throb as the clouds rolled in. It was hard to think, let alone breathe. The small openings letting the sun through helped a bit, but going into the evening, my face felt just as heavy. Nothing but a TV day on the couch. I didn’t dare try to work or do things that required thinking. They not only would have been too labourous, they would have been a mess and not made any sense.  After going to bed really early with a throbbing head I woke up with a clear mind and only some sniffles.

Ahhh summer in Ottawa.

September 4, 2011

Burgers on the Barbie

The Honey and I have enjoyed many BBQ days this summer and it’s been rather interesting having burgers. It’s been a long time since I had a real burger and I was hesitant to try. With success and enjoyment at a few restaurants with gf burger patties I decided to try one on our own backyard BBQ.

Metro sells beef patties in their meat counter and the nice thing is that they are only beef – no herbs, no added fillers, no added flavours, and no gluten. I realize I can make the same thing at home, but one step at a time. I’ll try eating it before mushing it in my hands for burger patties. The patties are also nicely priced at around $4 for four. I love loading on the mustard and homemade relish (homemade by someone else), just like my pre-vegetarian days. I’m not sure which I enjoy more, the homemade relish or the burger.

As the last long weekend approaches I’m reminded that I’ll need to pick some up or I’ll be out of luck. That happened to me the Canada Day long weekend. Being unable to get to the grocery store until later in the evening (I could have gone, but groceries in a hot car didn’t seem like a smart move) and the meat counter was empty. Even the posh cuts were slim pickins. I made my way to the freezer section knowing I was in for a challenge. Box after box was read then returned to the shelf. I asked myself ‘Why is there wheat in burgers?!’. Finally I found some that were safe. Metro’s Irresistibles Life Smart Lean Sirloin Beef Burgers are gluten free.  I took my chances and I was fine. The Honey’s only complaint was that they didn’t brown up as nicely as the regular patties. I’m guessing they use extra, extra lean beef to give it the healthy label. Otherwise The Honey and I enjoyed the taste and texture. A call to Metro later in the week confirmed that these boxed burgers are gluten-free. There is gluten on the line for other products, however.

With burgers there is normally a burger bun and I’ve gotten used to living without buns so I have no issues with putting my patty beside my salad or vegetables. On a recent trip across the border I picked up some Schär white rolls.

This is a German company that has been making gluten-free products for a long time. I’ve seen their products here in many of the health food stores, but the price has always deterred me. For this trip I couldn’t resist, especially at the price three-something for a package of four!

They are quite nice and have good texture. They also hold up to a burger and all the fixings really well – no falling apart or getting soggy! On my next trip I may stock up.

September 2, 2011

Summertime Salads

I may have mentioned before how much I enjoy salads, especially when the ingredients are fresh. As a kid I would have happily eaten the salad instead of the piece of meat put on my plate. My salad and vegetables were eaten first and the meat last and reluctantly (and sometimes not at all). I had my first Greek salad at the age of nine and to this day I still remember it. It was wonderful. To this day I still love Greek salads and don’t have them enough. Luckily for me I recently had all the right ingredients at home.

Another favourite is with tuna for a punch of protein. The Honey likes it too and if that’s a way for him to eat salad, then I’m all for it. It becomes an easy lunch to put together (canned tuna helps) and is usually ‘tossed’ by the time we get to work. With a whole bunch of healthy and fresh goodies, plus the tuna, we can’t help but feel healthy as we munch away.

Traditionally, Greek salad is lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. But of course, regional varieties exist.

With salads you can put whatever you like on them (I put radishes on my Greek salad because that’s what I had).

*In regards to canned tuna: Check the ingredients for what you want or don’t want with your canned tuna. Some are packed with vegetable broth, oil, or water.