Resolutions for 2012

Everyone makes New Years Resolutions, whether they make a conscious effort to record them or not.

In 2012 I would like to:

Be More Outgoing
It may come as a shock to you (or maybe it doesn't, I don't know) but I am a shy person.  Always have been, but hey, hopefully I can overcome that.

Get Organized
When I'm unorganized, I can't get anything done.  Looking at clutter makes me anxious.  Being so busy with all that is life, I'd like to organize my place (and mind) in a way that allows me to focus on what needs to be done.

Eat Healthy
Lately, I've been eating whatever is quick and easy.  I would like to set aside more time to cook and bake.  I enjoy coming up with my own creations, I just usually don't have the energy to do so on a regular basis.

Finish School
One more course left, woohoo!  I think I'll ace it... it's Vegetarian Nutrition and I've been vegetarian for nearly 13 years ;) Can't wait to be done.  What will I do when I'm done?  Who knows... that's another thing I have to figure out...

Spread the Word
Lots of changes are coming... sponsors, new website, tons more blog posts with reviews, information, products, restaurants, and giveaways!  I would like Gluten-Free Ontario to continue to grow and be successful.

In closing, here's a quote from a very pretty song:

Take a good look around,
Enjoy the beauty of now,
You don't need to hurry, 
You'll miss the meaning of life.

Did you make resolutions?  
What are they?


Gluten-Free Rice Krispies Coming to Canada!!!

Woohoo!  My friend over at Gluten Free Doll informed me yesterday that Kelloggs is introducing their Gluten Free Rice Krispies to Canada in January 2012!!

I grabbed a box when I was in Buffalo in September.  They are a little different from the original Rice Krispies I remember from when I was little - these gluten-free ones are made with brown rice.  I didn't particularly like the cereal with the Coconut Milk (as seen in the picture above) but it was much better with almond milk.

I think they will be available in most major grocery stores.  But be careful - the regular Rice Krispies will still be on shelves and contain barley malt!

If you want to read more, go check out Gluten Free Doll.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Toffee Bars

These were a hit at the Christmas party I went to a few days ago.  Nobody knew they were gluten-free until the end of the night when I told them!

I find the Glutino Table Crackers work best because they are rectangles that can be lined up.  They also happen to be my favourite crackers.

This is based on the Kraft Crunch Bars.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Toffee Bars

1 box Glutino Table Crackers (you won't need all of them)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 package  (8 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Put Glutino crackers in single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch pan.

Cook butter and sugar in saucepan on medium-high heat until butter is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring occasionally. Bring to boil; cook 3 min. without stirring. Spread onto crackers.

Bake 5 to 7 min. or until topping is golden brown. Immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate; let stand 5 min. or until softened. Spread over crackers; top with nuts. Cool. Break into pieces.


World's Best GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

I don't mean to brag or anything... but I think I just developed the world's greatest gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe.

It's my Daddy's birthday tomorrow (yes, Christmas day!) and I needed to make something special for him.  I was going to make a cake but then realized cookies would be easier to travel with.  

I received some samples of Cuisine Soleil organic flours and combined the brown rice flour, buckwheat flour and tapioca flour to replace all purpose flour.
This is based on the famous Nestle Toll House recipe but of course, with necessary changes to make it gluten-free.

I have tried this recipe in the past - the first time turned out amazing but the second time was sooo greasy, the butter oozed out of the cookies as they cooked.  Plus, my cookies fell completely flat and were totally crispy, not nice and chewy like my first batch.  I ended up with one "mega cookie" in my pan since they spread out and attached together.  I realized the first time I made the recipe I didn't have enough butter and had subbed in vegetable shortening for a little over half of the butter called for.  You can try using 1 cup of butter instead of the mixed shortening/butter combo I used but be prepared as you might end up with a buttery mess.

Gluten-Free Ontario's 
Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup Cuisine Soleil Brown Rice Flour
3/4 cup Cuisine Soleil Tapioca Flour
1/2 cup Cuisine Soleil Buckwheat Flour
3/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375*.

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Using a mixer, beat both sugars with the Crisco and softened butter and vanilla in a large bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between.

Add half of flour mixture and beat.  Beat in the last of the flour.

Add chocolate chips and stir.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls unto ungreased baking pan.  They don't have to look pretty... they will smooth out when cooking.

Bake for 8-11 minutes.  They are ready as soon as the edges start to crinkle.

Gift for Daddy!
Happy Birthday Daddy!


Snowman Brewing at The Burger Bar!

Kevin of Snowman Brewing
Snowman Brewing was sampling their new Pail Ale last night at The Burger Bar in Kensington Market. The place was PACKED when I got there just before 9pm.  Every table was taken and we had to stand around for a bit.  Luckily, Kevin from Snowman Brewing greeted us with a smile and samples of the new brew.

It's brewed like real beer so it tastes like real beer - a hoppy beer.  It may not appeal to everyone because it is quite hoppy but I enjoyed it.  I went with two (non-gluten-free) friends who both liked it, too.

Check out my previous blog posts - the first one where I interviewed Kevin Snow and the second features five different gluten-free beers for a review.  Make sure you join the Snowman Brewing Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter, too!

I was hoping to try out some of the gluten-free options at The Burger Bar, especially the Cowboys Supper... unfortunately, when I finally got a table, we waited for about 15 minutes for someone to acknowledge us before having to get up ourselves and ask a server to see some menus.  After waiting another 15 minutes at the table and nobody taking our order, we decided to leave.  I know it was busy in there... but nobody came to our table ONCE to apologize for the wait or to say they'd be back to serve us.  Ah well... I'll have to try again another night when it's not so busy.


I am no longer a sushi virgin

Believe it or not... I am 25 and I just had my first taste of sushi.

Perhaps it is because I have been vegetarian (no fish) for nearly 13 years... or the fact that I've been gluten-free for almost 6 years and feared that gluten would sneak into my rice rolls... I never ventured into the world of sushi.

Anyway... I went to Sushi K Express in Cloverdale Mall (Toronto) and asked the man behind the counter if any of the products were gluten-free/wheat-free.  He was very knowledgeable and immediately told me only the vegetarian ones were free of wheat.  Perfect!  (Imitation crab and stuff is usually made with wheat gluten.)

He offered to make a fresh batch, instead of offering me the ones that were sitting in the display case.  I watched as he prepared the sushi, made with avocado, cucumber, rice and seaweed sheets.  He wiped the counter down before cutting up the pieces and gave me the tray of fresh sushi.

I will definitely be back for more.  Now I understand the sushi craze!

Now if I could only figure out how to use these chopsticks...


Renee's Gourmet Gluten-Free Salad Dressings and Dips!

I am a huge fan of Renee's Gourmet products.  The labels include tons of great information, including whether the products are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, low in cholesterol, low in trans fats or have no added sugar.  The website has lots of information too, just hit the "Nutritional" tab on the product page or better yet, check out the allergen chart

In the picture above, I had some of the Pomegranate Blueberry Acai for dipping... I wouldn't really recommend it for dipping.  It would make a much better salad dressing.  Creamy Asiago was excellent for dipping though!  I think it's my new favourite!


Gluten-Free Candy Canes

A friend of mine sent an email to Allan Candy Company to ask about gluten-free products. Here's the response:
We have two product lines that do NOT contain Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Milk, Eggs, Wheat or Gluten and are produced in a facility free of such allergens; that is our Allan Dum Dum Pops and ALL our Candy Canes.
'Tis season for candy canes so I decided to investigate. 

I had no idea just how many flavours of candy canes were out there! Available flavours include Red Berries, Gingerbread, French Vanilla, Tangy Wild Strawberries, Sour Watermelon Slices, Peppermint, Cappuccino, Peach Slices, Cherry and Butterscotch.  I found a whole bunch of them at Zellers but I'm sure many stores have them.

Certified Hero Burgers - Veggie Style!!

They're here, they're here!!  The gluten-free veggie burgers that I talked about before are HERE at 

Not much to say... except yum!  It was incredible to get a gluten-free veggie burger in a mall.  I haven't been able to do that in years.


Ganong Delecto - Gluten-Free Chocolates!

Guess what?!

It's December and that means you're going to be tempted by cookies, pastries, cakes and pies at all those holiday parties.  Unless you bring your own goodies, you may feel left out.  
To make things a little easier, you will be happy to know that Ganong Delecto boxed chocolates proudly declare GLUTEN-FREE right on the label!

Delecto is a great line of products to let family and friends know about, too.  They are available just about anywhere and would make a great gift for you!

They have Truffles and Assorted Dark and Milk Chocolate.  Yum!


Gluten-Free Perogies!

Remember when I raved on the Gluten-Free Ontario Facebook Page about the gluten-free perogies I found in Buffalo, NY?  Good news - they are now in Ontario!!  woohoo!
Most of my old gluteny favourites have a dozen or more gluten-free versions on the market... perogies are one that I had a hard time finding.  When I saw them in the states, I quickly grabbed it and hopes for the best.  And yum, they are just like how I remember perogies!!

I got the Conte's Potato & Cheese with Onion kind.  Conte's also makes gluten-free ravioli, lasagna and pizza.  If you don't see Conte's gluten-free perogies in your favourite health food store, just ask that they order it in for you!  (Tell them the supplier is UNFI and they should know how to get it.) Gluten-Free-Grocery.com should have the perogies available for those in the delivery area very soon.

Check out this picture of the perogies!


I love this pasta!

Le Veneziane Corn Pasta
Le Veneziane (empty package, oops)
I used to love Fettucini before being diagnosed with Celiac Disease... but the gluten-free versions (i.e. rice pasta versions) that I've tried always seemed to be too thick and usually clumped together while cooking.  Not to mention the starchy mess in the pot...

Then I came across Le Veneziane corn pasta.  It is made in Italy and man, they know what they're doing over there. 
Le Veneziane - close-up
Fettucine is Italian for "little ribbons" - and that's exactly how I would describe Le Veneziane. Delicate ribbons.  They come in six little "nests" inside the package and unravel when cooking.  
Le Veneziane "nest"
I had no issues with the noodles sticking together while cooking.  I picked them up at Sobeys... not sure which other stores have them.
Le Veneziane Fettucini Alfredo
What's your favourite kind of pasta?  Rice, corn, quinoa..?


Gluten-Free Jalapeno Poppers featuring Kinnikinnick Panko Bread Crumbs

Kinnikinnick just recently introduced Panko Style Bread Crumbs.  It retails for about $4.99 for 350g.

I had plans to make some cheese sticks, breaded tofu and onion rings.  On my trip to the store to get ingredients, the jalapeno peppers caught my eye.  Jalapeno Poppers - brilliant!

Keep in mind this recipe doesn't make a whole lot... since I was just making for myself.  You can easily double or triple as needed.  I didn't measure anything so these are estimates.

Gluten-Free Jalapeno Poppers
Baked not fried!
  • 4 jalapenos
  • 1/3 package of Philidelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup sharp cheddar, grated
  • Spices/seasonings of your choice (garlic, onion or chili powder, Italian seasonings)
  • Kinnikinnick Panko Bread Crumbs
  1. Cut the tops off the jalapeno peppers.  Slice in half and carefully dispose of the insides - be careful, the seeds are hot!  Wear gloves or make sure you wash your hands well after handling the peppers.
  2. Cream the cream cheese, grated cheddar and seasonings together in a bowl.
  3. Spoon the cheesey mix into the jalapeno halves evenly.  They should be rounded on the tops.
  4. Pour some Panko Crumbs in a shallow dish and roll the tops of the poppers in the crumbs.
  5. Bake at 400* for about 15-20 minutes.
Mine are messy because I used my hands to fill the jalapeno halves.  Spoon or hands, either way works fine!  Here are the poppers before the oven.
Jalapeno Poppers before the oven
Jalapeno Poppers - crispy, right out of the oven!
I also made up a batch of gluten-free cheese sticks with mozzarella cheese.  The recipe was "borrowed" from my friend Devan over at Accustomed Chaos.  Check out her blog for tons of gluten-free recipes and information!
Cheese Sticks
mmm cheese!
What are you looking forward to making with Kinnikinnick's Panko Style Bread Crumbs?


Want to be featured on GFO?!

I have just recently added a new Blogroll feature to the blog.  If you have your own gluten-free related blog and want to appear on the list, please comment below with your blog link!

It would be appreciated if you return the favour ;)

It's super easy... if you are using Blogger, just go to "Layout" on the left hand side, click "Add a Gadget" and scroll down a bit to find the "Blog List" gadget.
Add the links to your favourite blogs and share them with your own blog readers!

So how 'bout it?
Who's got a blog to share?


Toronto - VILLA Restaurant Giveaway!

Gluten-Free Pizza with Pineapple
Villa Restaurant is one of favourite restaurants.  In the heart of Bloor West Village, Villa offers gluten-free pizza, pasta, multigrain dinner buns, salads and even some desserts.  Since 2004, Villa has been serving the Celiac community - long before most other restaurants even considered offering gluten-free options and two years before I was even diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Do you know how wonderful it is to go to a restaurant and order gluten-free food right from the menu?

I have been there many times and each time the food is great.  My go-to meals are usually the Alfredo with gluten-free spiral noodles or pizza with various toppings.  If you visit during lunch hours, you also get a side salad with your pizza or pasta order!
Alfredo with gluten-free pasta
Gluten-Free Wild Mushroom Pizza

What meal are you most looking forward to trying at Villa Restaurant?
You can check out the menu on their website.

  • Post your entry in a comment below before 11:59 EST on Sunday, December 11, 2011 and you will be entered to win one of two $25 Gift Certificates to Villa Restaurant!
  • Please include your name (as it appears on Facebook) or your Twitter handle in your comment so I am able to contact you when/if you win!  If you do not have Facebook or Twitter, please ensure I have a way to contact you.
  • If you enter more than once (please don't) only your first comment will be considered.

This contest is open to Ontario residents only! (This is Gluten-Free Ontario, after all) The winner will be chosen by the owner of Villa Restaurant and I will post the winner's name by Wednesday, December 14, 2011 on Facebook, Twitter and on this page.

Comments on this blog require approval - please only post once and I will approve them at a later time.

Gift Certificates expire January 31, 2012.

WINNERS: Terri Coles and @latleger


NEW - Kinnikinnick Thin Crust Pizza

Anyone who misses a truly thin pizza crust, you must try Kinnikinnick NEW Personal Size Thin Crusts.  The crust is also dairy-free and peanut-free.

If you're a calorie counter, watching your carbs or simply love a nice thin, crispy crust, Kinnikinnick's thin crust pizza is the way to go.  At 220 calories and 39 carbs for the whole crust (compared to 248 and 41, respectively, for half of the original pizza crust from Kinnikinnick) the thin crust is a tasty option for everyone.  You can load up on your favourite toppings to create your perfect pie.

The package instructed to top the frozen crust and then bake at 375* for 8-12 minutes.  I topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella, green peppers and mushrooms.  I placed it on a (preheated) pizza stone in the oven and took the pizza out after about 8 minutes and it was perfect.  I highly recommend getting a pizza stone, especially if you like extra crispy crust.  The stone also prevents the crust from getting soggy underneath.

The suggested retail price is $3.99 and comes in a package of 2, perfect for pizza night!
Which do you prefer - thin crust pizza or thick crust pizza?


May Family Farms Gluten-Free Deli Meat

May Family Farms has introduced a line of deli meats that are all gluten-free!

They proudly feature that their products are gluten-free, both in TV commercials and right on their packages.

There are eleven different flavours, including Cajun, BBQ, Original, Smoked, Thai and more.

I have to mention... I have heard a few people online say they avoid May Family Farms products because the package says, "Processed in a facility with wheat."

I decided to contact May Family Farms to see what they had to say about this.  How can they call the products gluten-free if they're from the same facility as wheat?

They kindly responded right away with the following:

May Family Farms Deli products are all gluten free. The statement that appears on the back of the package which reads: "Processed in a facility that contains soy, wheat and egg", appears as a matter of transparency. We want our customers to know that although our products are gluten-free, our facility is not a gluten-free facility.
All of our customers should be assured that, although our gluten-free deli products are produced in a facility that contains wheat as a source of gluten, the products are produced under a stringent allergen control program. We have been HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) certified since 1998. HACCP is a process management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing and distribution. Our suppliers must also comply to the same standards.
Since there currently is no regulation establishing an acceptable threshold of gluten for "gluten-free" claims in Canada, for our own internal standards we use the Health Canada recommended level of <5ppm (parts per million)in the finished product. Our compliance to these standards are verified by a random testing protocol. This is much lower than that recommended by the Canadian Celiac Association which is 20 ppm. We adhere to a stringent allergen control program in order to achieve these results and are compliant to the current allergen regulations as required by the Food and Drugs Act, in all respects.
So there ya have it. I don't personally eat meat (vegetarian for 12 years) but if I did, I'm certain I would feel comfortable with their testing policy and the procedures in place to ensure the products remain gluten-free.


My Celiac Tattoo

Here's my tattoo.  It is a green Celiac Disease Awareness Ribbon on my right shoulder blade.  I got it done when I was 21 and no regrets :)

Anyone else have a Celiac-related tattoo?


Gluten-Free Veggie Lasagna

I'm not a big fan of recipes where you have to be precise with measurements.  This is roughly based on a recipe I used pre-Celiac days.
Gluten-Free Veggie Lasagna 

Splash of olive oil
A bunch of sliced mushrooms
One green pepper
One small red pepper
One small yellow pepper
One medium zucchini 
Jar of pasta sauce
Jar of salsa 

Cheese Mixture
One egg white
Container of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 

About 10 oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 

Heat large pot with oil.  Add the veggies and saute until soft.

Add pasta sauce and salsa to pot and simmer for about three minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat.

Mix egg white, ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese in medium bowl.

In a medium-large sized lasagna pan, assemble in the following layers: 

(starting at the bottom)
1/3 cup sauce
Half lasagna noodles
1/2 cheese mixture
1/2 remaining sauce
1/2 mozzarella cheese
Half lasagna noodles
1/2 cheese mixture
Remaining sauce
Remaining mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
(top of lasagna) 

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350*F for about 45 minutes.   

Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-10.

 As you can probably tell, I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as too much cheese!

I am proud to say that this lasagna passed the "Dad test" - my dad is not vegetarian OR gluten-free but he said he liked it.  "It doesn't taste like it's missing meat or gluten."

Of course you can use any veggies you prefer.  Broccoli and spinach would work well!
The trick is to use lasagna noodles that don't need to be pre-cooked - I used Rizopia.

I used Classico Four Cheese pasta sauce - according to the website, all Classico sauces are gluten-free!  Tostitos Mild Salsa is on the Canadian Frito Lay gluten-free list.

And most cheeses should be gluten-free. (Thankfully!)

Bon Appetit!