Gluten-Free Licorice!!

Oh yes... licorice.  Something I know many of you have been missing.

Who didn't love the widely available gluten-filled Twizzlers prior to being gluten-free?

I had tried some gluten-free vine shaped licorice a long time ago but it just didn't satisty the licorice craving.  Nothing about it tasted like licorice... it just vaguely resembled licorice's appearance and not very closely.

Then there was the sugar free black cat licorice I picked up at Shoppers Drug Mart in the "No Sugar Added" section... I cautiously ate only one piece to see what it was like.  (Sugar alcohols are not my friend.  They shouldn't be anyone's friend.  They aren't properly digested/absorbed by anyone and can cause gastro symptoms.)  Enough ranting... the black cat licorice didn't go over too well.  I never liked black licorice anyway.

And then I found Black Ace Licorice!  

Despite the name, Black Ace Licorice comes in both black and red varieties.  I've bought these a couple times and to be honest, I meant to take a picture both times but the candy disappeared too quickly to snap a shot...
Anyway, above is a picture of the box.  I've only tried the red ones.  I'm sure if you like black licorice, the black would be equally as satisfying. 

They are shaped like little hockey pucks so you can't bite off the ends and use the licorice as a straw for your juice (wait, was that just me as a kid??).  While not exactly like Nibs, it is the best way for me to describe Black Ace Licorice.  If you happen to see them in a store, grab them!

(If you're in Toronto, I picked up the Black Ace Licorice at Blue Banana Market in Kensington.  I highly recommend checking them out... lots of cool knick knacks and gift ideas!)

And I would like to thank the members of my Facebook Group Ontario Celiacs for inspiring today's post ;)  Best group on Facebook!


Sponsor - VILLA Restaurant (Toronto)

I am very proud to introduce one of my sponsors - VILLA Restaurant!

Located in Bloor West Village in Toronto, VILLA has been offering gluten-free pizza and pasta since 2004.

I went a couple weeks ago and, of course, documented my visit through pictures for you guys!
Pictured above is the Arribiate with gluten-free pasta.  It is described as spicy tomato sauce with garlic, herbs, jalapenos and parmesan cheese.  I'm a wuss when it comes to spice but this wasn't over the top with spiciness.
And above is my favourite dish at VILLA... Alfredo with gluten-free pasta.  Seriously, 90% of the time I go there, I order it.  I have even gone so far as to have it delivered to my house.  I'm slightly obsessed with it.  I've mentioned my love of cheese a time or two before.

As always, another great visit to VILLA Restaurant!  If you want to check out some pictures from my previous visits, see my other blog post!


Gourmet Gluten-Free Wilderness Camping

The following is a guest post from Laurie Ann March, founder of Outdoor Adventure Canada and author of Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry(most recipes are gluten-free and are labeled accordingly).
Canoe on McGarvey Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park
Another Fork in the Trail
Being on a gluten-free nutrition plan is tough enough at home with so many products having hidden sources of gluten and it can be even more difficult when on a wilderness camping trip. The last thing you want is to feel ill when you have to hike or paddle into camp.

Many of the commercially available freeze-dried and dehydrated backpacking foods have gluten so it is important to read the labels carefully. The best way to avoid gluten in your diet is to make your own dried meals using a food dehydrator.

Food dehydrators for home use can run between fifty and one-hundred dollars and they use minimal hydro. Dehydrating your own backcountry food often works out less expensive than buying pre-packaged foods from your local outdoors store.

When you purchase a dehydrator, be sure to look for one with a top or side fan and a temperature control. I recommend a model that is 500 watts or more from Nesco or, if you don’t mind spending a little more, the Excalibur models are very good.

If you aren’t the one planning the menu make sure you are very clear that your food needs to be gluten-free or consider handling your own food in case a mistake is inadvertently made.

Here is a recipe from Another Fork in the Trail, to get you started.

Unstuffed Peppers with Quinoa

Dehydration Time: 6-10 hours
Makes 4–6 servings

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed (measure after squeezing out the excess liquid)
1/2 cup canned tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved
1/4 reserved tomato liquid
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red chilies
1 cup black beans
1 cup carrots, coarsely grated
1 3/4–2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium sweet peppers, coarsely chopped
2–3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or a small block of vegetarian or regular mozzarella

At Home
Place the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse for at least 3 minutes to remove the bitter coating. Drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions and celery until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach, tomatoes, and reserved tomato liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the basil, oregano, dried crushed red chilies, quinoa, black beans, carrots, and 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Check partway through cooking and if necessary add a bit more stock.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the peppers in a single layer in a baking dish. Top with the quinoa and vegetable mixture, cover with foil, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Let cool.

Measure the unstuffed pepper mixture and write this measurement on a sticky note. Dry the mixture on lined dehydrator trays for 6 to 10 hours. Put the pepper mixture and the sticky note in a ziplock freezer bag. If you are using nutritional yeast, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the bag with the pepper mixture. If you are using cheese, wrap the cheese before you leave for your trip.

At Camp
Add enough boiling water to the dried mixture to equal the measurement on your sticky note. Be sure to account for and add your dried ingredients to the rehydration container prior to adding the water. You can always add more water if you need to. Once the unstuffed peppers have rehydrated, you might have to reheat the mixture. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and serve.
If you are using cheese, put the hot pepper mixture into your backpacking pot, stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese, and then top it with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover it and let sit until the cheese melts.

If you want to make these for dinner at home merely cut the peppers in half vertically and stuff as shown in the picture. Bake as the instructions state but skip the dehydration instructions. Leftover filling can also be frozen to be used at a later date if you end up making too much filling.


Now you don’t always need a food dehydrator to make great trail food, although many of the recipes in my book rely on its use. Here is a no-cook, gluten-free recipe for energy bars that are great for day hikes and wilderness trips.

Date, Pecan, Blueberry and Ginger Bars

Makes 8 to 10 bars

The first time I made date bars was when I was a young girl taking a 4-H outdoor living course. As an adult, I wanted to add a little something to the recipe and I've always loved candied ginger. It gives these a nice bite, which livens the tastebuds.

1 cup dates such as medjool or honey dates
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/8 cup candied ginger, chopped

Pulse the dates in a food processor until you have a thick paste. Toast the pecans, if desired, in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat just until they start to become fragrant. Be careful that you do not burn them. Add to the dates and pulse to chop the nuts. Remove the container from the food processor and take out the blade. Stir in the dried blueberries and candied ginger. Line a square baking pan with plastic wrap and press the mixture firmly into the pan. Refrigerate for an hour and then turn out onto a cutting board. Remove the wrap and cut into 8 to 10 bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and reshape by pressing each side on a flat surface if desired.

Tip: Wipe your knife with a hot water soaked paper towel between cuts to prevent it from sticking. You can reuse the piece of wrap you lined the pan with to wrap your bars.

It is also possible to bake on a wilderness trip using a single burner backpacking stove and a gadget called an Outback Oven. Everything from gluten-free biscuits and muffins to decadent black bean flour based brownies is possible.

Speaking of black bean flour, a food dehydrator is a very economical way to make things like white and black bean flour to use in baking. You can even make flours from nuts, seeds, squash or pumpkin meat. You will need a mill or really good coffee bean grinder to process the squash and pumpkin flours.
Dehydrated Hummus
It takes a little planning and effort to have gluten-free gourmet food in the backcountry but the extra time is well worth it when you are sitting on the shore of your favorite lake enjoying a yummy meal at the end of a long day.
Indian Carrot Salad
What is your favourite outdoor adventure 

and why?  
(Hiking, camping, kayaking, backpacking, etc)
  • Post your entry in a comment below before 11:59 EST on Sunday, January 29, 2012 and you will be entered to win a copy of Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry!
  • 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 Laurie Ann March and I will post the winner's name by Wednesday, February 1, 2012 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.


Chain Restaurant - Milestones Gluten-Free

I visited Milestones a couple weeks ago for a late Christmas dinner with two of my closest friends from high school.  I had been to Milestones while on a gluten-free diet once before.  It was years ago and they only had an (outdated) allergy chart on their website.

Anyway, this visit to Milestones was much better:

They now have a gluten-free menu!!

I took this picture of the gluten-free portion of the menu.  It is right in the regular menu they give everyone so you don't have to specifically ask for a different menu.  (I find it a little awkward having to ask for a separate menu and employees having to search for it, roll their eyes and be handed a list of menu items with NO prices on it.)
Gluten-free options include pasta, chicken, burger (with bun!), salad or steak.  The vegetarian options are a little slim but pasta is always a favourite of mine!  It's hard to go wrong with pasta.

Tomato Basil Brown Rice Spaghettini topped with goat cheese - perfection!
You know what I loved about Milestones?  When the server took my order, she confirmed by saying "Gluten-free pasta" and again confirmed that it was gluten-free (without me pestering her) when bringing the plate. 
Even though the pasta was incredibly filling... I noticed there was a gluten-free dessert so I had to order it.  The Ganache Torte is made with Belgian chocolate with a pecan crust and caramel sauce.
Wow, dessert was amazing. 

Who else has been to Milestones?  
How was your experience?


Trouble finding your favourite products?

I posted this helpful tip on the Facebook Page a few months ago... but I feel it is worth posting again in a more "permanent" place.

Have you ever found the best product ever when you were across town or visiting another city?  And then you searched local stores but had no luck getting your new favourite product?

Tip:  Become friends with your local health food store or grocery store owners/managers.  They want your business and you want your favourite foods.  Ask them politely if they can please order your favourite products.  It's a win-win situation.  You're a happy customer and the store gets more sales.

Please remember that sometimes, as much as a store wants to help you and order your favourite products in, it is just not possible if they don't have the right suppliers or can't reach minimum orders for the company.  Also, some products are only available in the United States.

If you don't have much selection around you, perhaps you can find what you're looking for here:

Well offers many supplements, gluten-free food and personal care items (like those you'd find in a pharmacy) and delivers right to your door for free!
Well.ca - Canada's online drugstore

Glutenfree.com has a decent selection of gluten-free foods... you have to make sure you click the Canadian shipping version instead of the US one.  Unfortunately, not a whole lot ships to Canada but it's pretty good if you're looking for basic items.


And finally, gluten-free-grocery.com (one of my sponsors!) offers a very good range of gluten-free foods!  If you are in the delivery zone, it is free shipping and you can choose from a huge variety of dry and frozen goods.  If not in the free delivery zone, you can still get the dry goods shipped to your house.

Hope you guys are able to find what you're looking for!  Let me know if you have any question.


Toronto - C'est What?! (Pub/Restaurant)

A few weeks ago, I went out for my work's Christmas party.  The owners asked for my input on where to eat so I went into research mode, for some place fun and able to accommodate my gluten-free diet.

I shot an email off to C'est What (67 Front Street East, at Church, Toronto) asking what kinds of gluten-free foods were offered.   C'est What is located in the basement of a historic building in downtown Toronto.  With the focus of the pub/restaurant on their wide variety of craft beers, one would think a Celiac would be straight outta luck but no worries, they serve Nickel Brook Gluten Free beer! They also have a large selection of liquor if beer isn't your thing.

To my surprise, here's their reply about gluten-free offerings:
We have a number of options:
The veg and chicken roti on rice
Chips and salsa
Poutine (no gravy)
Caesar salad (no croutons)
Hogtown salad
Rainbow salad
Cajun rogout
Moroccan stew
Buffalo and lamburger (no bun)
Staggering pig (no bun)
Plus, we may or may not have additional options in our specials menu that particular day.
Seems like they've dealt with this sort of question before!  A little slim on the vegetarian options but that was okay... I took the plunge anyway.

I got the Moroccan Stew with chunks of carrots, celery, other veggies and chickpeas in a tomato broth over rice.  Yum!  I should try making this at home...
I'm not gonna lie, I'm addicted to tortilla chips... I've mentioned this a time or two before. Can't go wrong with these.
This last picture is of the Artichoke & Parmesan, which I was told is gluten-free when served with veggies instead of the pita bread. 
Please keep in mind the above list of gluten-free items were gluten-free as of December 2011.  Always check ingredients since they can change at any time.

Would I visit C'est What again?  Yes, in a heartbeat.  Great service, friendly relaxed environment and knowledgeable about gluten-free food.

PS - you guys won't have to put up with my crappy iPod pictures much longer... I got a new phone with a better camera, woohoo!