Hero Burger Offers GF Veggie Burger!

Hero Certified Burgers has decided to switch to a new gluten-free version for their veggie burgers!!
A couple months ago, I went to Hero Certified Burgers to get a veggie burger with a gluten-free bun (buns supplied by O'Doughs).  The menu advertised that their veggie burger supplier is Sol Cuisine, a company known for producing a wide range of gluten-free veggie burgers that taste great - I even wrote a blog about Sol Cuisine.

To my surprise, the chain used a pure wheat gluten version of the veggie burgers!!  Ahhh, needless to say, I went hungry that day.

When I got home that day, I emailed Hero Burger to ask why they used a wheaty veggie burger when they proudly advertise the use of a gluten-free bun and have an awesome gluten-free veggie burger supplier (Sol Cuisine).  The person I exchanged emails with agreed that this was unfair to customers who are both vegetarian and gluten-free - like me!!

I just spoke with Sol Cuisine yesterday and have been told that Hero Certified Burgers has decided to change the veggie burgers to be gluten-free!  woohoo!  Never thought I'd be able to eat a veggie burger with bun at a fast food joint!

This new burger should be available soon... I will keep you guys posted when I get more information.

Don't worry... they still have their gluten-free 100% beef patty for you meat-eaters.

My burger will look something like this ;)

Who's excited to try the new burger?  Or at least excited for me to eat a burger again?


Allergic Solution Review and Giveaway!

Allergic Solution is a fantastic company that offers great allergen-friendly mixes for you to make your favourite treats at home.

The products were created by two nutritionists who felt there was a lack of healthy alternatives for those with Celiac Disease and other gluten sensitive individuals.  

All mixes are free from:
gluten, wheat, corn, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts and tree nuts.

They are also kosher, vegan and have no sugar added.  You get to decide what kind of sugar and how much to add.  The mixes are mainly comprised of chickpea flour, something that I feel comfortable incorporating in my diet on a regular basis.  Fiber, protein and nutrients, who could ask for more?

Available mixes include Yeast-Free Bread Mix, Carob Cake, Vanilla Cake and Pancake & Waffle Mix.

I got to meet Tammie, one of the founders of the company.  She's awesome and I admire her ability to multitask and keep on top of everything.

I received a sample pack of the Pancake & Waffle Mix to try out.  Naturally, I decided to have waffles for dinner.  

My waffles turned out perfect!  Nice and fluffy inside and both sides turned a nice golden colour.  The instructions didn't call for sugar in this particular mix but I tossed in a couple tablespoons to be safe.  I have a massive sweet tooth.  Topped with blueberries and real maple syrup - yum!! (No Aunt Jemima in this house...)

By the way, if you don't have a waffle maker, I'd suggest getting one!  They are pretty cheap but come in really handy.  The one I have is a Proctor Silex Belgian Waffle Bakerwhich can be purchased on Amazon.ca.  How can you resist this masterpiece?

If you would like to get your hands on some Allergic Solution mixes, you can find them in select stores in Ontario or you can purchase them online from Gluten-Free-Grocery.com.
Which do you prefer - waffles or pancakes? 
And what is your favourite topping for waffles or pancakes?
  • Post your entry in a comment below before 11:59 EST on Sunday, December 4, 2011 and you will be entered to win a gift basket from Allergic Solution!  One winner will be chosen.
  • 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 Tammie of Allergic Solution and I will post the winner's name by Wednesday, December 7, 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.

The prize for this giveaway will include two packages of each Allergic Solution product plus a copy of Carol Fazari's book, Freedom from the Fire: A Nutritionist's Guide to Healing Inflammation with Food.

Winners: Tracy McIntyre and Ashley Pelley!


Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn't love a good mac 'n' cheese?
GF Macaroni and Cheese
Not such a bad picture for an iPod, huh?

It seems like all of my comfort foods include cheese in some form.  This is just about as easy to make as Kraft Dinner and tastes even better, in my opinion.  Load it up with veggies and you have a nice lunch for the kids or side dish for dinner.  I am a kid at heart... I could eat this every day and be perfectly happy.

Mac and Cheese with Veggies

(a good way to get picky kids to eat veggies!) 
1 package macaroni (or penne)
Preferred veggies (mushrooms, edamame, peas, carrots, broccoli, etc)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 cup (or more) shredded cheddar (can add a bit of mozzerella)
1 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper 
  • Boil water and add pasta.  Add your veggies to the water giving them enough time to finish cooking with the pasta.  
  • (Saute the mushrooms if using those! And add them at the end.)
  • In small saucepan over medium heat, heat milk until steaming.  Whisk in cream cheese until smooth; stir in basil. Add shredded cheese and parmesan and mix until gooey.  Add cheese sauce to drained pasta/veggies, toss to mix.  Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Super easy and tastes amazing!

Super easy and tastes amazing!

The nice thing about this recipe is that if you have different kinds of pasta (gluteny and gluten-free) to serve you can easily split the cheese mixture between them.


Jack Astor's Giveaway - Sherway location (Etobicoke/Toronto)

Do you like Jack Astor's?!

I certainly do!  As if you couldn't tell... I've written about them twice already. (
Post one and post two)  Each time I go, I am amazed at how friendly and helpful they are in regards to the gluten-free menu.  It also helps that I always seem to get the same great server ;)

I got in touch with the nice people at my local
Jack Astor's and was given eight Free Appetizer cards to give away to my readers!

Please note: the cards are only valid at the Sherway Gardens location in Etobicoke (Toronto).

I have now tried three of the four
gluten-free appetizer options -- the fourth has lobster and crab and I'm a veggie.
Appetizer House Salad
Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip
Ultimate Nachos

The first EIGHT people to comment on this blog post saying 

"I love Jack Astor's!" 

will get a Free Appetizer at Jack Astor's!
(Sherway Gardens location, 1900 The Queensway)
Please include your name (as it appears on Facebook) or Twitter handle!

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

Rules as outlined on the card: 
Dine-in only.  Minimum spend $25.00 exclusive of taxes and gratuities.  You must present this coupon to receive this special offer.  Maximum value of $13.48.  Not valid on 2lb Chicken Wings.  Limit one coupon per table, per visit.  Offer valid with purchase of an entree.  Expires March 31st, 2012.

May I suggest the nachos?!  It is too bad I couldn't keep these cards for myself ;)


MYTH: All Root Beer Contains Gluten

Yes, this is a myth!!  There are plenty of root beer brands that are gluten-free.

Every time I see someone say they avoid all root beer because it contains gluten I cringe a little.

I took the liberty of researching different brands of root beer to find out whether or not they contain gluten.  I searched each website for information on whether the root beers were gluten-free and if no information could be found, I emailed to ask the company.

Here are the results of my study in alphabetical order.
A&W Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
Turns out, the lady who responded to my email at A&W has a son who was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease and lives in Ontario!  And yes, A&W Root Beer is gluten-free.

Hi, Jax.  I'm so glad you wrote to ask this question, more for my sake than yours.  My son learned that he's got celiac disease just this summer and is in Kingston.  [...] And to answer your question, yes our root beer is gluten-free.  Please enjoy it to your heart's content.  Thanks so much for writing! 

Barq's Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
The answer to this question can be found on the Coca-Cola website.
Barq's is made by Coca-Cola and is clearly on their gluten-free list of products for both the US and Canada.

We are able to confirm that, in the U.S., the following products are gluten free:

Barq's root beer
caffeine free Barq's root beer
diet Barq's root beer 
We are able to confirm that, in Canada, the following products are gluten free: 
Barq's Root Beer
caffeine free Barq's Root Beer
Barq's Diet Root Beer

Blue Sky Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
After a couple emails and eventually posting on their Facebook page, Blue Sky finally responded about the product's gluten-free status.
Yes our Root Beer products are gluten-free! Enjoy!

Boylan Root Beer - has not responded to my (repeated) emails
Hmm... what's with companies who don't respond to consumer inquiries?  I left a message by phone... still waiting for a response.

Bulldog Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
Yes, Bulldog Root Beer is gluten-free. No wheat, rye, barley or oats.

Dad's Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
The product is gluten free and does not contain any items derived from wheat, barley, rye or oats.

Faygo Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
Faygo products are pretty cheap... and they're all gluten-free!

Hank's Root Beer - has not responded to my email
No response to email... and the phone rang and rang and rang.

Jones Soda Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!

Response from Jones Soda is that all of the sodas are gluten-free!

Hello Jax,
Thank you for your interest in Jones Soda Co.!
 Yes, our sodas are gluten free.  Please enjoy!
 Thank you for supporting Jones Soda Co.!

Mug Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!

It is indicated right on their website that Mug Root Beer is gluten-free.


Santa Cruz - GLUTEN-FREE!
I received an excellent response from Santa Cruz, indicating that their root beet is in fact gluten-free!

Dear Jax,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the presence of gluten in one of our Santa Cruz Organic® products. For over 110 years, providing our customers and consumers with the highest quality products has been of paramount importance to The J.M. Smucker Company. Quality products begin with quality ingredients and we employ comprehensive procurement procedures to ensure our products contain only the finest ingredients from reputable suppliers.
The product for which you have requested information, Santa Cruz Organic® Root Beer Sparkling Beverage, is verified "gluten-free".
It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet defined the term “gluten-free” or established rules for making a “gluten-free” claim on a food product. However, “gluten-free” claims are permitted and each manufacturer is responsible for determining whether or not its products are “gluten-free”.
The J.M. Smucker Company has established the following stringent criteria based on the FDA’s proposed rules for making “gluten-free” claims.

  • Ingredient Screening - The ingredient cannot contain gluten sources such as wheat, rye, barley or their derivatives or hybrids. We also review for the presence of oats.
  • Testing - While there is currently not a commercially available test to detect the presence of oats, the product must be tested to verify that it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
  • Manufacturing Procedures - In addition, facilities that manufacture verified “gluten-free” products must have a comprehensive gluten management program. All equipment used in the manufacture of products containing any gluten or oat source must be thoroughly cleaned prior to producing a product that is “gluten-free”. These procedures must be validated and inspected after each clean-up.
We would like to thank you for your inquiry regarding this product. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at 888-569-6994.

Stewart's Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!

Dear Ms. X:
Thank you for contacting us about the presence of gluten in our products. Consumer inquiries such as this are appreciated because they provide valuable feedback about our brands.
DPSG products are free of gluten containing materials, with the exception of Mr. & Mrs. T's Bloody Mary Mix, Mr. & Mrs. T's Premium Blend, and Clamato Red-Eye.

Virgil's Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!

Very "short" answer - yes the root beer products are gluten-free.

Zevia Root Beer - GLUTEN-FREE!
Zevia is a sugar-free brand that is sweetened with Stevia and it is gluten-free, according to their website.

So there ya go.  I couldn't actually find a company that still uses ingredients sourced from gluten.  Maybe they are hiding from me.  

I believe the reason this rumour exists is because back in the day, companies used barley malt as the sweetener.  The process of making root beer has been simplified and the use of barley seems to have vanished.

But feel free to contact any of the companies I have mentioned here to see for yourself that root beer does not necessarily mean "contains gluten."  If you have suggestions for other root beer brands I should include on this list, leave me a comment and I will see what I can do.

Drink up!!  Root beer float anyone?


Williams-Sonoma Gluten-Free Mixes and Flours

I recently read on a Facebook Group that Williams-Sonoma offers a gluten-free "Cup-for-Cup" flour mix.  It is meant to be used in your favourite gluteny recipes by simply replacing the wheat flour with the Williams-Sonoma Flour Mix.

I happened to pass by a Williams-Sonoma store the other day and popped in to check out the gluten-free selection.  To my surprise, they had a few gluten-free flour mixes!  The excitement ends there...
This was meant to be a review post... but sadly, it is not.  And I will explain why.

The price.

If I remember correctly, the 3-pound bag of C4C Flour was $29 Canadian.  And don't even get me started on the price of the waffle mix or cookie mix... I tried to block it from my memory.  I believe it was something like $26.50.  I could be wrong... but even if I am, it was something around there.  [If you go on their website, the prices are in US dollars... and the Canadian website has absolutely no information or prices for the products.]

For a second I thought, hmm, maybe I'll suck it up just for the sake of writing a review.  Then I realized, no, I don't care how good it is, I can't justify spending that kinda money to make a batch of cookies or waffles.

I'm not poor.  [By some definitions, maybe I am.] I just choose to spend my money more wisely.

I see on their website that some people have purchased the flour mix and some have had success with it... others complain that it contains milk powder.  I agree - lots of Celiacs have issues with milk and putting milk powder in there cuts out a huge portion of the potential customers.

But I think that price scares away even more people than the milk.

I completely understand that gluten-free flours are more expensive than regular flour.  Really, I do.  I work in a health food store... I see the wholesale prices compared to the "regular" products we sell.

And yes, I know Williams-Sonoma is notorious for having pricey products... but I find $25+ for a 3-pound bag of flour or cookie mix or waffle mix ridiculous!  I can get a kilogram (over 2 pounds) of ORGANIC flour for less than $10.

I will stick to my Bob's Red Mill and Cuisine Soleil flours, thank you.

Have any of your dished out the cash for the Williams-Sonoma gluten-free products?
Would you consider purchasing the products for those prices?


President's Choice Gluten-Free Cookie Review

On Thursday I announced that President's Choice would be introducing a new gluten-free cookie.  Recipe to Riches named Sonya Walos' gluten-free chocolate chip cookies the winner of the "Snack" challenge.  The cookies are named The Smart Cookie.

I called some stores and went wandering in search of the cookies... with no success.  The elusive cookies would have to wait.

Turns out my friend Jaclyn found the cookies on Thursday and said the following:
Way better than I'd thought they'd be. Sweet, kinda crunchy and chocolatey; definitely buy again. Joseph [my husband] likes them too. He says if no one told him they're gluten-free he wouldn't know.
Keep in mind, both Jaclyn and her husband are chefs and have pretty high standards!  So the cookies MUST be good, right?

I finally found the cookies on Friday evening at my local grocery store.  The cost was $3.99 for 200g.  I bought two boxes.

First thought - wow!  They managed to package gluten-free cookies that taste like homemade!

These cookies are not crunchy or crumbly or tasteless like a lot of other store bought cookies. (I won't mention any names.)  Good amount of chocolate chips and coconut, with a smidgen of cinnamon peeking through.

I have a huge sweet tooth... and even I find these very sweet.  Sugar is the first ingredient.  You'll likely only be able to eat one or two in one sitting.

You can find the full ingredient list and some reviews of the product on the President's Choice website.  

Sugar, milk chocolate chips )sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), whole grain brown rice flour, palm and canola and modified palm oils, unsweetened coconut (contains sulphites) brown sugar, potato starch, butter, honey, puffed corn, flaxseeds, dried whole egg, puffed quinoa, crisp brown rice (whole grain brown rice, evaporated cane juice, salt), natural flavour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, xanthan gum, salt.

When I heard the ingredients on the show, I thought these cookies would be similar to a (mock) oatmeal cookie, with the puffed corn, puffed quinoa and crisp brown rice added in the mix.  They aren't.  They have the texture of a typical home-baked chocolate chip cookie.  As seen on the show, I think it would be difficult for a non-Celiac to notice the lack of gluten/regular flour.
I want to point out that the cookies have a definite coconut flavour.  On the box, coconut is only mentioned in the small writing at the bottom and in the ingredients... but it should be made more prominent.  It's definitely a key ingredient.  If you don't like coconut, these cookies probably shouldn't be on your grocery shopping list.  But if you do (like me) these cookies are a winner.

The cookies seem to be getting mixed reviews on the website.  I'm wondering if maybe the hype has raised some people's expectations... or maybe they don't like coconut.  At any rate, The Smart Cookie will in my cupboard.

If you would like to help me encourage President's Choice to label their current products that are gluten-free, visit my blog post from yesterday.

Missed the show on TV or want to watch again?  Watch online!

If you would like to try making Sonya Walos' cookies at home, you can find the recipe here.

Edit: A fan of Gluten-Free Ontario, Lisa Noonan, took it upon herself to make the recipe at home and send me a picture!  She subbed in gluten-free crispy rice for the Nature's Path Vanilla Sunrise Cereal that the recipe called for and cut back on the chocolate chips a bit and got great results! Yum!

Have you tried The Smart Cookie?

Do you like it?

Plea to President's Choice

To all my Facebook fans, blog readers, tweeters and anyone else who may be reading this... 

I have a favour to ask of you.

I don't ask for much so please hear me out :)

If any of you have ever been to the store Wegmans in the US, you may already be familiar with their store brand products that are clearly labelled gluten-free.  They even go so far as to list their gluten-free products on their website.  And there are hundreds of them.

As far as I know, there is no Canadian (Ontario) equivalent to Wegman's awesome labeling in stores.

So here's the plan.

Let's encourage President's Choice to label their products in a similar manner.  If the product is gluten-free, put a little GF in the corner of the label.
President's Choice is known for having pretty tasty products and a lot of it is quite healthy too - their "Blue Menu" especially.  How great would it be to buy regular products again?

Who's with me?
There's strength in numbers!

You can contact President's Choice through their website, on Facebook, or through Twitter.

A sample message could be:
I loved President's Choice products prior to being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Now that I require a gluten-free diet, it is difficult to find affordable, great tasting food that is safe to consume.  Please label your PC products that are gluten-free and I will be a happy shopper!  This would make navigating the grocery store so much easier and more affordable to those of us who cannot eat gluten.  Thank you!


PC introduces a new Gluten-Free Cookie!!

RECIPE TO RICHES is a new competitive reality series where each week, Canadian home cooks battle to have their original recipes become a President’s Choice product, win $25,000 and become eligible for a grand prize of $250,000.

On last night's episode of Recipes to Riches, Sonya Walos' gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe was up against two other recipes in the "Snack" category. Contending recipes included a "S'more" and a strange sounding "Bacon and Pancake Cookie," neither of which were gluten-free.

Amazingly, the gluten-free cookie became a favourite of the judges and the recipe will be packaged and sold under the President's Choice brand name in stores starting this weekend!  It is called The Smart Cookie, and is described as: "A sinfully good cookie made with milk chocolate chips, coconut, puffed corn, quinoa and crisp brown rice."
Sonya had attempted 160 different gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipes until she came up with the perfect soft-baked recipe for the show, that even her non-gluten-free friends loved.

I would like to thank my friend Dahlia, who tweeted me with this amazing news last night!  Thanks!

Check out my review!

How cool is this?!  Will you be on the lookout for the new gluten-free cookies in stores?


PatsyPie Gluten-Free Review and Giveaway!

PatsyPie may just be the greatest company to ever exist.  

Just so happens that everything they make is gluten-free.  The company is in Quebec but the products are available all over Ontario in health food stores and some grocery stores, including Metro, Sobeys and Loblaws.

At the CHFA trade show a couple weeks ago, I got a chance to stop by Patricia's booth and noticed the company just introduced a gluten-free pie crust, similar to a graham crust.  It requires no baking so you can just fill with your favourite pie recipe and you're all set.

Visions of banana cream pie danced through my head.

I had the opportunity to speak with the owner/founder of the company, Patricia, through email.  I asked if I could review some of her products right here on my blog and she happily agreed.

So here goes...

PatyPie Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Sweet cranberries and orange zest come together for this perfect combination.  Just how I remember biscotti!  

Excellent dessert or paired with a cup of tea to end a long day.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Crunchy chocolate chip cookies are definitely one of the comfort foods missed by most of those following a gluten-free diet.  

You don't have to sacrifice great taste - these cookies are packed with tons of chocolate chips to satisfy that milk-and-cookie craving!
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Mini Peanut Butter Brownie

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mini Brownies

Remember those gluteny two-bite brownies that melt in your mouth?  I almost think someone sneaked them into my PatsyPie package... no wait, these are better!  

I find it hard to believe these are gluten-free.  The Peanut Butter Brownies are to die for.  The perfect combination of peanut butter, real peanut chunks and rich chocolate in a chewy two-bite brownie. Delicious!

Snappy Ginger Cookie

Snappy Ginger

These may just be my new favourite cookies of all time!

Just the right amount of ginger and crunch, this was the first bag to disappear around here.

These all natural Snappy Ginger cookies are excellent with hot tea or a glass of milk.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Better than any peanut butter cookie I've made at home, these cookies are the real deal.  They even have REAL fork print marks on the top!

Again, perfect crunch, little bit chewy and oh-so-yummy!

All PatsyPie products are made in small batches with no chance of gluten cross-contamination.
It was Patricia's mother-in-law who taught her how to bake. Her husband's family had a tiny restaurant in Trenton, Ontario when he was growing up and her mother-in-law made 30 pies a night for the restaurant.
The inspiration for PatsyPie's products!
So up next - PIE review!  I think PatsyPie is the first pie crust in Canada similar to a graham crust.

I decided to make that Banana Cream Pie I'd been dreaming about.  
It was really quite easy.  Since the pie crust does not have to be cooked, I made up a batch of Kraft Cook & Serve Banana Cream Pie, poured it over sliced bananas in the pie crust and topped with some MimicCreme Healthy Top (non-dairy) Whipping Cream.

It was sooo good!  I ate the whole thing myself!

PatsyPie products are available in health food stores across Ontario.  If you don't see them, ask your favourite store to order them in for you!

You can also order directly from the PatsyPie website.


What kind of pie are you dying to make with PatsyPie Pie Crust?!
  • Post your dream pie in a comment below before 11:59 EST on Sunday, November 20, 2011 and you will be entered to win a gift basket from PatsyPie!  One winner will be chosen.
  • EDIT: PatsyPie will be choosing TWO WINNERS!
  • Please include your name (as it appears on Facebook), your Twitter handle or sign into your Google account to comment so I am able to contact you when/if you win!
  • 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 Pat of PatsyPie and I will post the winner's name by Wednesday, November 23, 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.

Please check the PatsyPie website for ingredients if you have any allergies. All of her products are completely gluten-free and made in a dedicated gluten-free facility but they do use nuts, peanuts, eggs, corn and other potential allergens.

The winners of the contest are: 
Paula Anne Parent and Little Voice!  
They have both received their gift baskets and I will be posting their pie pictures in another blog post ;)