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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May is Celiac Awareness Month- Are you knew to going Gluten Free?

May is Celiac Awareness Month- Are you knew to going Gluten Free and wondering where to start?         
        Here Are Some Important Things to Remember:
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, oats, rye, kamut, spelt, couscous, triticale, and bulgur.
Grains you can have are corn quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff and rice- try to stay away from parboiled rice as brown, basmati and wild have many more nutrients in them. You can also have arrowroot, tapioca, cassava, sorghum, chickpea and almond. All these make great substitutes when baking.
Flour Alternatives
1 cup wheat flour =    1 cup millet flour
             1 cup cassava flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup chickpea flour or other bean flour
1 cup quinoa or amaranth flour
 1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup almond flour
For Gluten free baking you can use a combination of chickpea flour and brown rice flour. I use 1/2 and 1/2 of each.  Or I combine chickpea flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and potato starch with some baking soda. This is in descending order, in other words higher amounts of chickpea and brown rice flour than the others. This usually works well. For more information on how to substitute in baking check out my cookbook, Finally... Food I Can Eat.
1 tbsp flour = 1 ½ tbsp arrowroot
                       ½ tsp cornstarch
                       1 tbsp tapioca flour
                       1 tbsp potato starch
Remember to tell your pharmacist that you are gluten free as many prescription drugs, supplements, toothpastes etc can contain forms of gluten.  Make sure to read labels as gluten can be hidden and is sometimes found in foods like instant coffee, spices, sausages and frozen foods.

Hidden Gluten: names to watch out for
  Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), unless made from soy or corn
   Flour or Cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, or soy flour
   Vegetable Protein unless made from soy or corn
  Malt or Malt Flavoring unless derived from corn
  Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize, or maize is used
  Vegetable Gum unless vegetable gums are carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, xanthan gum, or vegetable starch
 Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids unless you know they do not contain wheat .Tamari, is wheat free soy sauce
 Any of the following words on food labels usually means that a grain containing gluten has been used; stabilizer, starch, flavouring, emulsifier, hydrolyzed protein.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Avocadoes the Super Fruit

Avocadoes I think are probably my most favourite food, today that is. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I liked avocadoes I would have said, “Um, I have never tasted one.”
Yes, I am one of those who was raised on meat and potatoes and a little seasonal fruit every now and then. Foods like cilantro, avocadoes, arugula, and anything else that was green was probably not high on my list, nor was served at our supper table.
Then my life became all about food allergies and what the heck was there left to eat. Guess what, avocadoes were on the Can Eat List. So I tried one, and well I just loved them. They are so smooth and creamy and I can’t imagine how I had lived without them.
 I think I first tried them in a local vegetarian restaurant where they had made them into an avocado and onion salad with lemon juice, uembushi vinegar, olive oil and salt. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Since that day I have never looked back and every time I go grocery shopping which is fairly often, I pick up at least 6 avocadoes.
My significant other was like me, and when we met a few years ago I tried to get him to eat avocadoes. He would always say “I don’t really care for them”, and” I would say,” have you ever tried them?” Now he eats more avocadoes a week than I do. His favourite way to eat them is sliced on toast or with a chicken sandwich. He also loves them with his eggs on the weekend, or on our homemade flax crackers.
My girlfriend always carries an avocado in her purse when she goes out just in case there is nothing on the menu that she can eat. She will ask the waitress to bring her some olive oil and lemon and voila she has a healthy snack.
I put sliced avocado into all my salads. Whether it is a green lettuce salad, a cabbage salad or kale salad, an avocado always makes it taste so much better.
Not only do they taste great, they are good for you. Full of healthy fats, fibre, oleic acid, which makes you feel full, and folate; so if you are pregnant add them into your diet. Avocadoes can help lower cholesterol, so why not pick up a few avocadoes at your local supermarket and add them to your menu planning.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My favourite kitchen gadget

What is your favourite kitchen gadget?

As someone who is always cooking there are just some gadgets that I can’t live without.
Many of us are in our kitchen daily preparing meals for ourselves or family members. For me, food prep is essential as I have multiple food allergies and Celiac Disease.
Prepared foods are not an option for me and I am currently following the Paleo Diet in hopes of curing my leaky gut syndrome which I think I have had all my life.
From what I read, most illnesses especially auto immune diseases stem from the gut and the first step in healing, is to heal your gut.
Currently I am reading “Minding our Mitochondria” by Dr Terry WahIs. Having being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis her illness progressed quite quickly and she ended up in a tilt wheelchair unable to walk. A few years ago she decided to take her life into her own hands. Studying and researching how to heal her body. She found that the Paleo Diet was the answer along with certain supplements and electrical stimulation to help her muscles to heal. She is now able to walk and even ride her bike. Wow!
I have also read the PH Miracle Cure by Dr. Robert Young. He advocates that the only way to heal the gut and illness is go on a total vegetable ( greens diet) by juicing and making shakes. Along with supplements, colonic irrigation and keeping your body more alkaline you can heal your gut.
I am not sure what the answer is. All I know is I continue to search for the right diet for me. Along the way, I use my favourite kitchen gadgets.
Is there a kitchen gadget that you would find hard to live without?
I have 2 favourite kitchen gadgets. The first is my zester. I have 3 of them and they are all a little different. Whether I am zesting an orange, a lemon or grating ginger they are tools that I use daily.
I purchased one of them at my favourite kitchen shop, another at Lee Valley Tools and the third one at my local grocery store. They range in price from $13.95.
My salad spinner is another one of my favourite things. Be it cleaning lettuce, kale, cilantro, parsley or other greens I can’t imagine how I managed without it. I paid a little more for my salad spinner, but as I said, I can’t imagine being in my kitchen without it. Considering I am trying to push my intake of veggies up to 9 cups a day I eat a lot of salads and wash a lot of greens.
So what is your favourite kitchen gadget?

p.s. I just bought an Excalibur 4 tray dehydrator and I think it is going to be my new favourite kitchen gadget, or maybe I will have to write about my new favourite kitchen appliance?
I love my kale chips and flax crackers, they are delicious!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Delicious-Alternatives: The Wheat Belly

Delicious-Alternatives: The Wheat Belly: The Wheat Belly The Wheat Belly written by Dr. William Davis is an amazing look into what wheat has done to the health of our citizens i...

The Wheat Belly

The Wheat Belly

The Wheat Belly written by Dr. William Davis is an amazing look into what wheat has done to the health of our citizens in the past 50 years.
As he states in his book, “Wheat Belly explores the proposition that the health problems of Americans, from fatigue to arthritis to gastrointestinal distress to obesity, originate with the innocent looking bran muffin or cinnamon raisin bagel that you down with your coffee every morning.”
Just think about how much wheat is in our food. Think about going to the grocery store and of all the aisles that contain wheat products. The bread aisle; white bread, whole wheat, multi grain, seven grain, rye, pumpernickel, sourdough, French bread, baguettes, bagels, flax bread, pitas, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns and don’t forget the artisan bread. The bakery department with cakes, cookies and pies. The snack aisle with pretzels and crackers, followed by the baking aisle with bread crumbs, croutons, and flours. The dairy case has crescent rolls, cookies and frozen pies. Breakfast cereals, pastas and frozen foods, all contain wheat. Apart from the soap and detergent aisles and fresh produce wheat it in every product.
Bread dates back to before Christ and it always seems that to break bread with someone is a special event.
During the 19th and 20th centuries wheat changed little. Then in the latter part of the 20th century what we called wheat changed. The wheat we grow today is so different from what was grown a century ago that we should be calling it by a different name.
The demand for a higher yield, decreased production costs and a longer shelf life was instrumental in the genetically changed wheat. But are we now paying for our mistakes?
Celiac disease in on the rise and one in 133 people are Celiac. Many others have an intolerance to wheat and gluten. Many people have no symptoms, but that does not mean their bodies are okay with consuming wheat. Look at the rise in cancer and diabetes. All this can be linked back to the time that we changed the type of wheat we are growing.
What really got me was Dr. Davis’s statement that, “ Did you know that eating two slices of whole wheat bread can increase blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of pure sugar can? How can this be possible? We have grown up in the past 10 years of hearing eat more whole grains, it will do your heart good. Well maybe not. This cardiovascular doctor says that wheat is the cause of my illnesses including heart disease.
So what are we doing to our bodies?
A Neolithic breakfast would have been a meal of fish, game meat or some berries or insects.
 Today we start our day off with a carb and end it with a carb. Boxed cereal, which contains mostly cane sugar and processed wheat flour, muffins, biscuits, toast, oats, croissant, bagels, pancakes or a breakfast bar.
We then have a sandwich at lunchtime, or a bowl of soup and crackers, maybe even a doughnut at mid morning break. Dinner might consist of pasta or frozen dinner which will contain wheat. We don’t exercise enough and we wonder why diabetes and obesity is on the rise?
Foods that increase blood sugar also cause diabetes. Carbohydrates trigger insulin release from our pancreas causing visceral fat, which then causes insulin resistance and inflammation. Look at the common illnesses of our world, most are based on inflammation. Diabetics are told to cut fat, reduce saturated fat and include healthy whole grains, beans and legumes in each meal. Yikes what are they thinking, all these foods turn into sugar in the body.
Perhaps if we say goodbye to wheat, we might even say goodbye to diabetes and many other health related illnesses.
If you want a good informative read with a bit of humour thrown in, read the Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, be informed about what you are putting into your body.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Delicious-Alternatives: Websites and Food Blogs Galore

Delicious-Alternatives: Websites and Food Blogs Galore: I am amazed at how many websites and blogs there are that deal with food, food preparation, allergies and especially gluten free cooking...

Websites and Food Blogs Galore

I am amazed at how many websites and blogs there are that deal with food, food preparation, allergies and especially gluten free cooking.
 I think gluten-free has taken on a whole life of its own and from what I have read, is now a million dollar industry. As I read the “ Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis I am becoming aware that we have done this to ourselves. Changing the structure of our wheat over 50 years ago so that it would bring in a higher yield, be resistant to bugs and feed the world we have created a wheat that humans can no longer digest. Hence, Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, IBS, and a multitude of other intestinal disorders.
Many of us are aware of the havoc that gluten wreaks on our systems as we get the full body symptoms after we digest wheat, but many others have no symptoms and are unaware of this silent and potentially deadly food we are consuming.
Cutting wheat out of your diet can seem overwhelming, but with so many websites and dedicated bloggers you will be amazed at how easy it can be.
Here are some of my favourite website/blog sites, check them out for lots of great info and tasty gluten free recipes.
Check them out
The Stuffed Pepper-
The Balanced Platter-

The Gluten Free Homemaker-
Cook it Allergy Free-

I will be writing a book review of The Wheat Belly in my next blog, stay tuned...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hey Mom. what's for lunch?

Hey Mom, what’s for lunch?

As a dietary consultant I specialize in helping people with food allergies come up with menu ideas and recipes that meet their dietary needs.
Having food allergies as well as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I know only too well how challenging it can be to make tasty, healthy meals.
Last week I spoke with a Mother of two children ages 8 and 10. Both children have food allergies, and are following a gluten free diet. Mom was feeling quite stuck in what to prepare them for their lunches.
Living in our North American society we are so programmed to the ‘sandwich’ and when we stray from that we find it difficult to come up with other ideas.
 When I went to school most of us would open our lunch bags to bologna, ham and chicken sandwiches, a piece of fruit and or cheese. These days not much has changed, but what I find is that most kids are picky and not really that hungry at lunchtime. They tear open their sandwich, eat the inside meat and their fruit or yogurt and are off to play in the school yard. The Wonder bread gets tossed in the garbage and so I wonder, why is the almighty sandwich so important for lunch?
If we lived in another part of the world we might go to school with a corn tortilla and an avocado for our lunch, or some rice or soba noodles with vegetables.
What came up in our conversation was that she didn’t want to send her kids to school with “weird” lunches. I don’t want the other kids to make fun of them she said. Oh boy, what have we done to get here? How have we gotten so away from nutrition and feeding our children healthy foods, to what looks right and fits in with the bullies in our school yards?
We started to talk about ideas for school lunches and what would appeal to her children. Here are some of the ideas we came up with.
I am hoping they will give you some ideas as well, but ultimately it is what your child will eat and be comfortable with taking out of their lunch box or bag.
Bean dips with cut up veggies- these are so easy to make. Take a can of navy beans, or lima beans, rinse well, put in blender with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and cilantro or parsley and a little salt. You can do the same with any canned beans or even chickpeas to make hummus. Many grocery stores are offering healthy hummus and bean dips as well, but check the ingredients.
Lettuce Wraps- Take a piece of romaine lettuce, spread allowable mayonnaise or mashed avocado, layer with nitrate free turkey or ham and roll the lettuce leaf up so that you have a sandwich roll without the bread
Gluten free tortilla wraps – There are corn wraps, rice wraps and teff wraps available at your grocery store. Some of the brand names are La Tortilla Factory and Food for Life
Tortillas filled with refried beans and daiya cheese, if you are not familiar with daiya cheese visit their website at
Salsas with corn chips
Gluten free crepes with a dipping sauce
Leftover homemade chicken nuggets with dipping sauce
Homemade gluten free pizza
Cabbage Rolls
Rice cakes with sunflower butter or apple butter ( nut butter unless the school is nut free)
Sweet Potato Corn Wraps- Cook sweet potatoes in oven until soft and carmalized. Scrape out filling let cool and put into wraps or on pieces of celery or sliced tomatoes
Healthy Muffins are a great quick lunch or snack idea
Tahini banana sandwich on gluten free bread
There are many gluten free sites on the internet and so many recipes that are being posted online, check it out and see what you can find to put in your healthy lunchbox today!