October 31, 2012

Simple Tomato and Basil Risotto

Believe it or not I still have basil in my garden. It no longer looks perfect, but it does the job for some fresh herbs. With our garden done for the season all we’re left with is our pots – begonias still hanging on, the yellow mums tempting the squirrels, the rosemary still hangs on and the parsley is still growing. The bush basil though is finishing off and so I thought I’d use some of it up and pick up some tomatoes – they still seem to hanging on at the markets too.

Simple Tomato Risotto            serves 4 (Canadian Gardening Annual 2011)
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup dry vermouth
2 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large leek, sliced
½ cup Arborio rice
1 large handful fresh basil, roughly torn
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Pour stock and vermouth into a saucepan and warm. Melt 1 tbs butter in another saucepan. Add the garlic and leek and cook for 4-5 mins, until softened. Add the rice and cook for 1 min, until the white dots in the rice appear. Add about ¼ cup of the stock mixture to the rice and stir constantly until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue doing this until the rice becomes tender. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, cheese and remaining butter until well combined.

October 28, 2012

Gluten Free Grows Love


I recently discovered a product whose company passion is to ‘Spread the Love’ and make people excited about healthy food. This company is Love GrownFoods and they make a kickass granola.

While wandering around the ‘special’ section of Loblaws – you know, the one with organic, gluten-free, and all the other expensive stuff – I saw bags of cereal I hadn’t seen before. It was granola and in the bottom corner was a nice little wheat free box. I got excited and began examining the bag. Labelled Oat Clusters & Love, this particular bag had sweet cranberry, coconut and pecans. It sounded yummy. Upon further examination, it seems like Love Grown Foods is doing it right; keeping it healthy and tasting good. Their oats are certified gf oats and according to their website processed on their own equipment further ensuring the oats remain gluten-free.

What’s it like? Awesome!!! This is what good granola is supposed to be like; crunchy, with flavour, and healthy. Some out there are either hard as a rock, soggy, or taste disgusting and Love Grown granola is none of that. Lately my cereals have been letting me down and I’ll be starving an hour later, Love Grown keeps me full throughout the morning and is helping me up my fiber intake (all positives!). I’ve also purchased the apple walnut delight and it is just as good. I stocked up on a recent grocery trip as they were on sale ($2 off!) and can’t wait to pick up more.

This is a new favourite thing and what makes me love them more is that their granola is made with love – just like food should be.

October 23, 2012

Golden Quinoa Flour

I’m revamping my flour mix and experimenting. I like the rice flour mix that I found in my Annalise Roberts GF book (and the same one that Bette Hagman uses), but with all the muffins and baking I’ve been doing I feel like it’s lacking some nutrients.

I’m experimenting. I use lots of different flours depending on the recipe and cookbook I use, but it’s always nice to have one mix for convenience. It isn’t easy, especially since I’m particular about some of the flours. I’m not picky, per se, just particular. Some flours and premade flour mixes use bean flours, either one or a variety and for me the taste is just too … well beany. If one has grown up using bean flours or eaten baking with them, they may not notice it. But for me, it’s too overpowering and I have trouble eating something sweet-ish and tasting bean. There’s a bakery downtown that makes a gf cupcake and it tastes like beans and I just can’t go back. Oh, I shouldn’t have thought of that. The taste is coming back to me.

Recently I was at Homesense (which has become one of my favourite stores; I just go there too often) where I found some quinoa flour. There was a shelf full of different brands so I picked up a few (the price was too good to pass up). I’ve decided to make some more muffins this week so I can use it some more.

This Golden Quinoa Flour is packaged by Ecoideas, a company based in Ontario. So far I’m impressed because the quinoa comes from the Canadian Prairies, is non-GMO, and for ¼ cup there is 10% of your daily value of iron and 12% for fibre. I know that there has been a lot of hype regarding quinoa this past year and seeing that little nutrition sticker really hit home why it’s become a new ‘superfood’.  Upon opening the bag I quickly noticed a nutty aroma. It wasn’t strong, just there, and it was pleasant. I was impressed in how my muffins turned out and I’ll try it again to make sure it isn’t a fluke. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it will make my flour mix a little healthier.

October 21, 2012

Mmmmm Bagels

I’m slightly picky about bagels. The ‘real’ ones could come in a variety of forms and textures and they were still good. But gluten-free versions have their good moments and their bad ones. Some are really chewy, some are really hard, and some just taste really bad. Then I found some Glutino bagels at Rainbow Foods.

I know I’ve had some bagels by Glutino in the past that were just so-so, but these were poppy seed and I was drawn to them. 

They toasted very nicely and tasted great with some butter. If you can handle cream cheese, I’m sure they would be even better. The texture was just perfect and I was very pleased. There wasn’t any chewiness, no pulling, and no odd flavours. An added bonus for me is that there isn’t any potato flour or starch in these bagels, which makes my tummy a bit happier, and finding gf goodies without any potato starch or flour is difficult (I sympathise for those with corn issues).

I sliced them up, put them in the freezer and enjoyed them throughout the week. A nice change from my usual cereal.

October 16, 2012

Sob Sob!

Every year at this time I lament the passing of summer. The leaves have turned and some trees have become quite bare. Hallowe’en decorations abound in stores and Christmas gear is slowly emerging. Although Labour Day tells us to put the summer stuff away, the last day of summer is officially the end. I push it to Thanksgiving because the weather is often still warm and fresh and flowers and vegetables are still bountiful. I’ve been meaning to write this post since then, but I’ve been busy gearing up for a season of craft fairs, recuperating from a holiday in Las Vegas (a post will eventually follow), and trimming back the garden.

As sad as it is to see the diminishing sunlight – shorter days and an increase in rain, I have made a point to go out and enjoy summer whenever I could. It never seems like enough though. As my health has floundered a bit this year, I’ve come to realize that I missed out on some things in life and I wanted to enjoy what I could. Some surprises followed.

A fabulous wine was introduced to me by a friend and I could not get enough of it. I did have to draw the line, but I enjoyed it as much as I could. Sometimes I would steal away to our makeshift backyard and enjoy a glass or two with a magazine.

We took some day trips here and there enjoying the beautiful weather and great views.

We often had some company on our walks by the river. This little guy would come when called and trot beside us then dash back into the bushes when it pleased him. I nicknamed him Bel because we could hear his little red bell on his collar and knew when he was near.

When my mom was in town we took in the Chicken & Rib Festival. I’d always passed it up, but since I’d moved to the dark side I can enjoy the carnivorous delights. Believe it or not, many of the trucks had gluten-free sauces so food could be devoured worry-free.


A BBQ sauce my sister enjoys also happens to be gluten-free.

And slices of salmon were often cedar planked on the BBQ this summer.

Many of the outdoor markets had gluten-free vendors. We discovered Owma Bakes in Kanata and were pleased with their products. Whoopie pies are good, but like cupcakes, I just don’t get it.

One of the highlights was the first craft beer festival. Not normally thrilling for a celiac, but Nickelbrook was there with their sorghum beer. Yes, these two guys kept me happy throughout the evening (and my wallet feeling lighter). I didn’t even have to ask, these guys knew what I wanted (gushing about the beer and them and taking their picture helps too!).

Finding out about lavender lemonade made me feel posh and special. Really?! Who wouldn’t with a glass of this fine deliciousness.

I also devoured more than my share of ice cream. Normally a major ‘no-no’ thanks to my disgruntled tummy a friend introduced me to So Delicious, which makes a coconut milk ice cream (no soy!) and their cookie dough version was gluten-free. How awesome!! Thankfully, once it went back to regular price my waistline and wallet were pleased.

I wrapped up my summer with a trip to the Cupcake Lounge. I pop in once in a while when wandering around the market and on a recent visit they actually had a gluten-free cupcake. A lonely little guy sitting there in the display case calling me out (It was a shock really, as I’m always told I need to order a half dozen, which doesn’t make sense since I only want one. I only want one because if I wanted more, I’d make them myself, and if I had more, I’d eat them all – yesssss all of them. That’s why I only want one! I digress.). I can see why people love this little place; it was a good cupcake. Worth the $4, but I’d rather not lose half the icing to the paper wrapper because I look like a little piggy licking it off the paper. Plus, I could do without the Smartie, which I don’t believe is gluten-free.

Of course, summer always passes by too quickly. I bought a new bike, at a friend’s suggestion, which should allow me to ride with less arthritic pain in my wrists and I must say it was a joy to zip around the paths. I only wish I had done it earlier in the season. With the wind and rain appearing more and more recently, my biking days are numbered. There’s always next year.