17,000 Fans and Italpasta Giveaway!

Italpasta Gluten Free
It's that time again!!

We've reached another milestone on the Facebook Fan Page - 17,000 fans - and that means we have another giveaway!

Italpasta has developed yummy gluten-free pasta, composed of both rice and corn.  The best part about this pasta is that it doesn't fall apart like most other gluten-free pasta!

You can find it in most major grocery stores in the regular pasta aisle.

And now for your chance to win a prize pack from Italpasta!

The prize box will include Italpasta gluten-free pasta, Misura gluten-free pasta and Vitale Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce.

Good luck!
Enter below to win a prize pack valued at $50!
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16,000 Fans and GlutenTox Giveaway!

Haven't you ever wished there was a way to ensure your food is really gluten-free?

Well, GlutenTox has a kit you can use right in the comfort of your own home to test for traces of gluten!!  The test can detect 5 ppm (parts per million) or 20 ppm.  20 ppm is deemed the "safe" level for those with Celiac Disease.  Currently, there is no test that can tell you whether a product contains 0 ppm.

I was lucky enough to receive a kit containing two tests to experiment with.  Oh, the endless choices of what to test for gluten!
The first kit I used to test a batch of gluten-free flour I picked up at Bulk Barn from a bulk bin.  Please note, I do not ever use flour from bulk bins.  I just don't have enough trust in other people to use the right scoops.  The Bulk Barn location I go to has rye flour directly next to the gluten-free bins.

The blue line below is the "control" line to show that the test is working properly.  If it was positive for gluten, there would be a pink line beside it.

I had totally expected the test result to show up positive for gluten but it says negative. Who knows what goes on in those bulk bins when you're not looking, especially when there's so much room for error.

This test result is not an endorsement for gluten-free flour from a bulk bin.
Up next, I couldn't decide what to use the second test kit for.

That is, until I visited La Veranda Osteria at Royal York and Bloor in Toronto.  I ordered the pizza.  It certainly looked and tasted yummy (doesn't it look good?!) but I did not feel well later that evening.

Perfect opportunity to use the test kit!  Was that pizza really gluten-free?!

I mashed up a small bit of the crust and proceeded to follow the instructions.

And lo and behold, positive for gluten!!  (As indicated by the pink line.)  While I know the crust was made from gluten-free ingredients, I am assuming they have unsafe procedures for preparing the pizza.  I will be talking with the owners about this in the future.
Wouldn't you like the chance to test your own food for traces of gluten?! This test gives me peace of mind that I am consuming safe foods.
Enter below to win one of two 2-pack GlutenTox test kits!

The kits containing 2 tests normally retail for $29.95, plus shipping and HST.

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Gluten Free Garage

It's that time again... Gluten Free Garage is next weekend!!
Sunday November 17, 2013
Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie Street (at St. Clair)
Toronto, Ontario
$10 entry.  Children 12 and under enter free.

There will be dozens of vendors selling their gluten-free goodies, plus tons of samples and coupons.

Don't miss out!

This will be my third time at this event as an exhibitor.  
 Find me at the event and get a free Gluten-Free Ontario pen!
Come out and support local businesses!


15,000 Fans and PatsyPie Giveaway!

We have reached a new milestone... 15,000 fans on Facebook!

As promised, we are celebrating with another giveaway.

My mom use to make scone when I was growing up and I haven't been able to enjoy the fresh baked scone for over 8 years.  Imagine my excitement when I heard PatsyPie has developed not one but TWO gluten-free scone mixes to please your taste buds - Classic and Cranberry.

Be one of the first to try PatsyPie's new Traditional Scone Mixes.  They are amazing warmed up with a little butter!
The winner will get their choice of mixes to fill one case - a total of 8 packages for the winner!

Thank you, Pat!

Enter this great giveaway below!

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Gluten-Free Butter Tarts

Making butter tarts involves making pastry, which may seem like a daunting task for those of us who cannot rely on pre-made tart shells.  (Gluten-free versions do exist... but they are hard to find and I'm sure they're super expensive.)

I have used this pastry recipe a number of times to make a variety of different pies and tarts (both sweet and savory) and it has been very successful in my recipes!

Gluten-Free Pastry Recipe

Flour mix
1 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup white rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

Other Ingredients
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1 egg (cold)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup water (cold)

Extra flour for rolling
  • Mix flours together in a large bowl.
  • Cut in butter/Crisco.
  • Beat egg and add the vinegar and water together in a small bowl.
  • Mix all ingredients together in the large bowl, kneading with hands.
  • Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
  • Sprinkle lots of flour on a large surface area before rolling out dough.

 Butter Tart Filling

1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Soften the raisins by placing them in a small bowl covered in hot water to soak for 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup.
  • Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  • Drain the raisins and add to mixture.

Use a round cookie cutter to cut rolled out pastry to fit mini muffin pan.

Spoon butter tart filling mixture into the pastry shells.  Only fill about 3/4 of the way because they will bubble up in the oven and you don't want them to burn.

Bake at 400*F for 15-20 minutes.

And there you have it... buttery, flaky goodness!


14,000 Fans Giveaway!!

My good friend Tammie from Allergic Solution has offered up an amazing prize for this milestone - 14,000 fans!  This prize was submitted by Tammie, Kathy and Lisa at Gluten Free Smart Store. Thanks ladies :)

The total prize is valued at $250 and includes some Allergic Solution products, cookbooks, a gift certificate and other products that are available on Gluten Free Smart Store - wow!
The above picture shows just part of your prize!

This is huge, guys. Please enter below.  Good luck!

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Baked Fusilli, Vegetables and Cheese

Baked Fusilli, Vegetables and Cheese

340g (5 cups) gluten-free fusilli (I used gluten-free Catelli)
2 cups broccoli
1/2 cup peas (or veggies of your choice)

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheese (old cheddar, mozzarella, whatever you choose)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried basil

Gluten-free bread crumbs (I used Aurora brand)

  • Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package in a large pot.
  • Add the veggies to the boiling water allowing them enough time to finish cooking with your pasta.
  • While pasta/veggies are cooking, heat milk and cream cheese in a small pan.  
  • Add in the shredded cheese (except 1/2 cup), Parmesan, garlic, basil and salt.  Mix well.
  • Drain pasta and return to large pot. Mix in the cheese sauce.  Add salt to taste.
  • Pour in casserole dish, top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  • Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.


Crock Pot Moroccan Stew

A simple, protein-filled vegan meal for those days you just don't want to cook.

There's a little bit of prep work involved but you'll be relaxing with a nice bowl of stew in no time ;)

Crock Pot Moroccan Stew

1 small or medium onion
2 tsp olive oil

2 medium sweet potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup green lentils
One 28 oz can of diced tomato
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1 soup cube (I use Celifibr Vegetable)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric

Last minute additions
*Handful fresh basil (or cilantro or mint), chopped coarsely
*One 15 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
*1/2 cup raisins

Slice or dice the sweet potatoes and boil until soft.

Saute onion in the olive oil until onion is tender.

Toss all ingredients (except basil/cilantro/mint, chickpeas and raisins) into the Crock Pot and set to high for about 3 hours, until water is absorbed and lentils are cooked.

*Add the basil, chickpeas and raisins and cook for another 15 minutes.



Corn and Black Bean Salad

Looks like summer is here!  This means we get to enjoy the nice weather with patio eating with family and friends.

This Corn and Black Bean Salad is the perfect addition to your next pot luck or backyard BBQ.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

5-6 cobs of fresh corn
1 large can black beans, rinsed
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Juice of 1 lime (zest optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (zest optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil corn for approximately 10 minutes.  Run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Carefully cut the corn off the cob.

Mix the dressing in a small bowl.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill to let the flavours blend together.

Serve cold.


Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells

I recently posted the above picture on my Facebook Page and all of you went crazzzzy, asking for the recipe!

Wow, I'm so happy you guys love what I post!  I won't hold back any longer... here's the super easy recipe!
Gluten-Free Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
One 300g package frozen chopped spinach
One 475g large container ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 jar pasta sauce
1 box gluten-free Tinkyada Grand Shells

1. Preheat oven to 350*.
2. Line a 9x9" pan with approximately one inch of pasta sauce.
3. Cook entire package of Tinkyada pasta shells according to directions, about 20 minutes in boiling water.  Rinse pasta with cold water.
4. Thaw and thoroughly drain spinach.
5. Combine spinach, ricotta, parmesam cheese, garlic and salt and pepper.
6. Scoop cheesy mixture into the shells and space evenly in pan.
7. Top the shells with the remaining sauce.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated throughout.

You can also add mozzarella or Parmesan cheese to the top before baking and/or you can add cooked broccoli to the cheesy mixture in addition to spinach.

It's that easy, friends!
The pasta shells that I used are from Tinkyada.   You can request the shells at your local health food store if they do not already carry them. If you find another brand of shells, this recipe was perfect with 25 shells, give or take a couple.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies!

Bob's Red Mill - "Wheat-Free Rolled Oats"
Woohoo!!  I've been craving oatmeal cookies for weeks and finally got around to making them.

Please keep in mind that in Canada, oats are not allowed to be labeled "gluten-free" as this would be against regulations.  The problem with oats is that commercial brands are cross-contaminated with gluten through the fields and processing facilities. Look for oats labeled "pure and uncontaminated" and wheat-free Elisa certified, such as Bob's Red Mill (pictured to the right).

You can read the Canadian Celiac Association's position on including pure oats in a gluten-free diet here.

Here is the recipe I used, based on the suggestion of Kim Clark on my Facebook page, but with a few minor changes :) (Thanks, Kim!)

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies!
Makes 3 - 4 dozen large chewy cookies

1 1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup natural cashew butter (no sugar added)
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup Jax's Gluten-Free Flour Blend (ingredients below)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (labeled "wheat-free" Elisa tested in Canada)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*.

Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl.

Add in the cashew butter, water, egg and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

In a smaller separate bowl, mix the flour, xanthan gum and baking soda together.  Add this mix to the wet ingredients and stir well.

Fold in oats and chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 14 minutes.

Jax's Gluten-Free Flour Blend

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 1/2 tapioca flour/starch
1/2 cup corn starch

I keep a big jar of these flours mixed together in my cupboard.  I use this blend for just about everything!  It's very versatile.  The trick is to add xanthan gum to varying degrees, depending on what you are making.


Italpasta Giveaway!

A while back I wrote about Italpasta gluten-free pasta being one of my favourites.

Italpasta is a fantastic company that makes gluten-free pasta that will rival your favourite gluten-filled pasta. Plus, it's non-GMO!  Made with rice and corn, this pasta will surely become a staple in your household.

I am proud to welcome this company as one of my new sponsors!

May is Celiac Awareness month and we get to celebrate with a pasta giveaway!

If you are the winner of this wonderful prize, you will receive a prize basket containing:

2 jars Vitale Primavera sauce
2 jars Italpasta Tomato Basil sauce
6 boxes of Italpasta Gluten Free – 3 penne & 3 spaghetti
4 bags of Misura GF – 2 fusilli & 2 penne
1 Italpasta apron

Valued at $60!

Enter the giveaway below!

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Sweets from the Earth - Focaccia Review!

Focaccia is fun to say and even yummier to eat!!

At Gluten Free Garage over the weekend I picked up focaccia from Sweets from the Earth Sweets from the Earth is a Toronto-based vegan company with a dedicated gluten-free facility. (They also have a nut-free facility that uses gluten so make sure you're picking up gluten-free products in stores).

I was excited to try out the focaccia and scoured the internet for ideas on what to top it with.

I love rosemary and I was debating just trying it out without anything added but decided on a recipe from King Arthur called Mackinac Focaccia.

How could you go wrong?!  Zucchini, tomato, cheese and onion - yum!  I wanted to get my hands on more focaccia.

I called Sweets from the Earth to find out where I could purchase more of this product and to let you guys know where it is available... but it turns out, it's not actually available in stores yet :( It is currently only available when they attend trade shows showcasing the gluten-free products.  (I didn't know this prior to posting the picture/teaser on Facebook the other day.)

Maybe if we pester Sweets from the Earth to package this product, they will listen to our demands and get it in stores?! :)

Check out Sweets from the Earth on Facebook!


Vancouver - Gluten-Free Restaurants!

I always thought Toronto (my hometown) was the gluten-free capital of Canada.

That is, until my recent visit to Vancouver.  I checked out a few websites online that list gluten-free options and I enlisted the help of Robyn and Andrea from Gluten Free Vancouver to steer me toward some of their favourite places to eat and favourite bakeries as well.  I also put out a call on my Facebook Page for your suggestions of places I couldn't miss out on.

I was in Vancouver with my mom for 5 nights and got to visit with my brother who lives there.  In that time I got to check out a number of great restaurants!
White Spot
Multiple Locations

After a 5+ hour flight, we were hungry.  The pamphlet at the Vancouver Airport indicated White Spot as having gluten-free options. We headed on our way to grab some lunch.
To my surprise they had a separate menu listing gluten-free options!  Sadly, the only options that were vegetarian were some salads and two choices of pasta.

I went for the Caesar salad and Alfredo pasta.  Yum!  Very large portions meant that I couldn't finish both, despite being really hungry.
Flash forward to Saturday evening... after a failed attempt at checking out a different restaurant, I found myself back at White Spot (different location... this time Granville Street).  I ordered the pasta with Marinara Sauce.  Quite good, though not my favourite and not really anything too special.  Still nice to have the assurance of ordering from a separate gluten-free menu.

White Spot is a fairly cheap and casual chain restaurant in the Vancouver area.  While the food was pretty good and I was thankful to have this option around for those times where I was really hungry, I likely wouldn't go out of my way to visit again.

1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver ("The Drive")

My brother had a gift certificate for this place so it was an easy decision to visit on my first evening in Vancouver.  Looking over the menu online and seeing the "mazina tortillas" (tortillas made of wheat and corn flour) I thought I was in for a dinner of plain ol' salad.  Boy, was I wrong!  They had an entire gluten-free menu!

Unfortunately this menu is not available online.  Most of the menu items involved meat in some fashion so I decided on the 7 layer dip, which was served with tostones (fried plantain, cut lengthwise).
I really enjoyed the layer dip and would likely order the same dish again if I returned.

This restaurant is also where I got my first taste of the beer that is available in Vancouver!  (I will have an upcoming blog post featuring all of the gluten-free beer I saw in Vancouver.)
First up in Vancouver was Estrella Damm Daura gluten-free beer.  Not bad!  My brother (not Celiac) also took a sip and said this beer tasted like regular beer, which, as many of you know, is quite the compliment!
The Naam
2724 West 4h Avenue, Vancouver (Kitsilano)

This vegetarian restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is located in Kitsilano, which is a great shopping area and also very close to the beach.  When I inquired about gluten-free options, the server informed me that the tortillas and tortilla chips were just made with corn, plus they have gluten-free bread so there were plenty of options I could choose from.  This was a real treat!  I am so used to skimming over a menu and immediately cutting out 50-80% of the options because they contain meat and here I was looking at a menu that was completely vegetarian, with many gluten-free options.

Amazing selection of food!  Huge portions!  I can't say enough about this restaurant.  We ordered the Chilaquiles Enchilada and Tuscan Nachos.
There was no way the two of us were going to finish all of the food.  It was actually fun to watch and see what other people were ordering at tables around us.  Everything looked amazing! I would have loved to come back to this restaurant but I didn't end up having time to visit Kitsilano again.
While service here was a little slow, the large portion sizes made up for the lack of service.

(Multiple Locations)

This chain restaurant is also in Ontario and they offer a gluten-free menu at all locations.  I have always enjoyed the gluten-free spaghettini from a Toronto location.  I was still full from my lunch earlier in the day so I decided on a light dinner and ordered the California Spring Salad.

Yup, I'm one of those strange people who enjoys eating salad ;) especially if there's strawberries in it!

1535 Johnston Street, Creekhouse #102, Granville Island, Vancouver

Located on Granville Island, I visited Sandbar on the Friday of my visit, a really wet and rainy day.  I think the only vegetarian and gluten-free option was this pizza.  Granted, I couldn't really ask for anything more since this WAS a fish restaurant.  Heck, they even had a whole fish menu indicating which fish was available that day!
Anyway, back to the pizza.  The toppings were very fresh and tasty but I felt like the crust was a little bit "old school" gluten-free.  It tasted very ricey to me and was not crispy enough.

They do offer gluten-free pasta as well but I didn't have a chance to try that out.

(Multiple locations)

I was quite disappointed with my visit to Nuba.  First of all, I showed up at the Yaletown location at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and stood around for over 10 minutes waiting for the girl inside to open the door.  She finally came over and informed me (through the door) that they open at 12.  When I told her the website said they open at 11:30 she repeated that they open at 12 and walked away.  Whoa.  So... I walked around the block to see what else was around and returned to Nuba at 12. (They have since updated the website, thankfully.)

I knew before I arrived that I was ordering the falafel plate.  I have a soft spot for falafel and will take every opportunity to test out falafel in a restaurant if it is gluten-free.
Everything looked amazing!  The falafel balls were really good but that's about where my satisfaction ended.  The rice was very hard and needed 5-10 more minutes of cooking, the salad was DRIPPING with oil and I'm pretty sure they gave me the stalks of lettuce to dip in the hummus. Well, one bad meal in 5 days isn't so bad...

Moving on...

818 Howe Street, Vancouver

On my last full day in Vancouver, I remembered that I had seen a sign for Chipotle while walking around downtown.  I had previously been to Chipotle in Buffalo and loved the food.  I visited a location in Toronto (Yonge and Dundas) but didn't enjoy my meal there.  The quality of the food at this location in Vancouver has restored my faith in the chain!
Your order is made in an assembly line to speed the process and you can tell them exactly which ingredients you want.  The good thing about Chipotle is that ALL of the ingredients used are gluten-free, except the flour tortillas (used for burritos).  I ordered the vegetarian tacos, which includes 3 tacos for 8.95.
I'm sorry that the above picture does not capture how yummy the tacos actually are!  It's really difficult to photograph tacos like this.  Fantastic tacos!  I plan to give Chipotle in Toronto another shot and hopefully will be pleasantly surprised.

8808 Osler Avenue (behind the Coast Hotel), Vancouver

I had been in contact with Cravings over twitter before visiting Vancouver.  I knew this restaurant would be a gem so I added it to my "must visit" list.  I saved the best for last!  On my way to the airport, my mom and I met up with my brother one last time for lunch.

I felt like I needed something a little healthier this day after eating a lot of not-so-healthy meals earlier in my trip.  I settled on the Caesar salad and stir fry.  The manager/owner(?) came out from the back and asked if I eat eggs.  I said yes and she informed me she would be making croutons from their own gluten-free bread (which contains eggs).  Wow, what a treat!  Fresh croutons!  (Pre-Celiac, I enjoyed snacking on croutons on their own, that's how much I love them!)  Yummy!

I can't remember the last time I got to enjoy a Caesar salad with croutons.  The stir fry was also very fresh. This colourful and healthy kick was just what I needed to end my trip!

I really enjoyed flipping through an official menu listing the gluten-free options!  Plenty of yummy and healthy options to choose from :)

It seemed like everywhere I turned there were gluten-free options!  And if there weren't options, the wait staff and other employees at least understood what gluten-free meant.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the gluten-free offerings in Vancouver.  Pair that with the mountains, fresh air, ocean views and friendly streets, Vancouver is a great place for anyone looking to explore other areas of Canada.