Wheat and Dairy Free Adventures — comfort food edition


It’s been a long while since I posted about food finds.  This is mostly due to the fact that it is summer, and it is so hot that I have not wanted to turn on my oven or use any heat of any kind, so I’ve been living off of wraps with lunch meat, hot dogs on the barbecue (I love hot dogs…. please don’t judge me… I know… I get it.  Just…. forget you read it, lol you won’t change my mind.)

I have stored up a few for you over the last few weeks… only two of which actually requires using an actual oven.  Which, if it’s as hot where you are as it has been here in Southern Ontario, I beseech you — keep the oven use to a minimum.  More actual recipes, rather than just products, will come in the fall.

First of all — pizza.

Almost two weeks ago now, I was at a friend’s house, and there was vodka involved, and I ate pizza.  Real, delicious pizza.  With real wheat and real cheese.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time……… It wasn’t.  I’ve vowed that I will not be that foolish again, and finally caved and tried Daiya’s pizza.  I haven’t tried it yet because it’s typically fairly expensive, and they only have a few varieties.  Since I’m one of the pickiest people I’ve ever met, the idea of having to eat Supreme, Spinach and Mushroom, Margherita, Fire Roasted Vegetable, or Mushroom and Roasted Garlic pizza… just to get pizza… makes me sad.

So I bought a cheese lovers pizza.  And I put chicken on it.  I would have also put bell peppers and bacon on it, because to me — that’s a pizza.  But we didn’t have either of those options while I was at my parents’ house.  So I put chicken on it.  I’ll try it again, and I’ll dress it up exactly how I want it, but I will not try one of their ready-made flavour options because there’s just too much mushroom, onion, and tomato involved.  No thanks.

Anyway, here’s my cheese lovers + chicken.
Know what’d be awesome??  If Daiya made a Hawaiian!  All you haters of pineapple on pizza… your comments will be deleted 😉

Verdict:  It was tasty.  I’ll buy it again — and I’ll put ham and pineapple on it!

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Daiya Cheeze Lover’s Pizza
Purchased at:  Sobey’s
Price: 8.99 (on sale)     *note:  I find this expensive.  However, since my alternative anywhere else is ordering a pizza on a cardboard-like gluten-free crust with no cheese, I’ll take it.  It’s a good special occasion type deal.

For Dessert — Peach Crisp

I love peaches.  I know I shouldn’t love inanimate objects, and there’s something deeply disturbing about overthinking the concept of loving something you’re about to destroy.  Death by chewing sounds like love to me.  But at any rate… I love peaches. But out of season, I do not love peaches.  I get that other regions in other countries can grow them for longer than a month.  I understand that thanks to modern transportation and shipping techniques, I can get peaches most months of the year.  But I don’t buy them, because there is NOTHING on this Earth like a fresh, juicy, local, in-season, Niagara Region peach.  Thank you, Lord, for Vineland.  Concord Grapes and peaches arrive in grocery stores and farmers markets at the same time, and I am in fruit oasis.  My two favourites, all at once.  Pretty much all I eat for a month is peaches and concord grapes.  And then they go away in early September and I’m left to hope for August to come around once again.

Since it is that time, I am currently on a mission to do everything I could do with other fruit with peaches instead.  That leads me to peach crisp.

This is my mother’s recipe, adapted from an apple crisp, and I made it dairy free.  To do so, I used Becel Vegan margarine.  Now — hear me clearly, I don’t love margarine.  I don’t find it tastes amazing, and when cooking or baking, I typically substitute coconut oil instead.  However, for ease for everyone, I have left a tub of vegan margarine at my mother’s, and at my grandmother’s, and that way whenever they would use butter in a recipe, they just grab my margarine and no one is afflicted by my being complicated.

Please note the addition at the top of the recipe — I found I needed to bake this way longer than my Mom did.  I’m not sure if it was that I used more peaches than she did, or that the vegan margarine didn’t crisp as well as the butter that she used when she made it the first time.  Either are possible.  Just check on it at the 25 minute mark, then go 5 more minutes at a time until it looks crisp and crunchy and golden, like any good crisp should.

If you’re completely gluten free, make sure you get gluten free oats.  I am more of what we’d call “gluten conscious.”  Sometimes I’m conscious that it’s in my food, and then there are consequences, but I’m not as much of a stickler as I likely should be.

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I went to a friend’s house two days after making my own peach crisp, and it turns out she loves local peaches as much as I do, and she also made us a peach crisp.  She used cinnamon instead of brown sugar in the oat topping, but she added a delightful addition.  She bought me So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

Now, it’s expensive, but not really any more so than a similar-sized tub of Haagen Daaz so I guess it’s all about perspective 😉

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What a NICE touch!

Please note:  The coconut milk ice creams (as well as the cashew ones, I’ve found) tend to freeze REALLY solid.  Even running the ice cream scoop repeatedly under hot water, I was still getting more ice cream slices and shavings than scoops.  I recommend pulling it out of the freezer in advance of serving it to let it thaw a bit so you can actually get the scoop into it.  But it’s delicious.

I’m not sure where my friend got hers, but I have found it at Sobeys, Metro, and Zehrs.

If you’d prefer to use whipped cream rather than ice cream on your crisp, I recommend Gay Lea’s Coconut Cream whipped cream.  Completely dairy free as well.  It has more of a coconutty taste than the ice cream does though, so I’m not sure I’d prefer that on peach crisp.  I didn’t try it, but I did have it on just plain peaches the other day and it was tasty.

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I bought mine at FreshCo, but I’ve seen it pretty much everywhere.

For Another Dinner… Meatball Subs!

Something I’ve missed dearly since going wheat and dairy free are meatball subs.  They were the ultimate comfort food for me.  Crappy day?  Stop at Subway.  Don’t want to cook?  Stop at Subway.  It’s probably for the best that I can’t do that anymore, but the fact remains that I have missed them.  Determined to make them on my own, I made them twice in the last couple days and have some tips to ensure your success.

You will need…..

  1. Gluten Free Sandwich Buns.  I prefer the ones by Promise because they don’t fall apart.

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I’ve only found them at Metro.  They aren’t cheap — 3.99 for 3 buns.  But they’re tasty.  I’m over it.

Tip:  You’ll want to toast the bun a little first.  My initial attempt left me with a soggy seam along the edge of the bun because I put meatballs, sauce, peppers, and “cheese” on the bun then put it in the broiler, and the moisture from the sauce soaked into the bread.  If you toast your bread first, and put your sauce in the microwave to get it warm first so all the broiler has to do is melt the cheese, you’ll have a much more successful and much less messy sub.

2. Meatballs — I have a bunch of pins on my Pinterest board for how to make my own Gluten Free meatballs — but why?  PC Blue Menu has done the work for me.  These are my favourite meatballs since going gluten free, and they cook reheat in the microwave in like a minute and a half.  How do you argue that?

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Note:  I know they’re PC, so that would make you think “sweet, I can get them at No Frills!”  I have not found this to be true.  I have only ever seen them at Zehrs.

3. Spaghetti Sauce.  This is really up to you, it doesn’t matter what kind you use.  This is my favourite, because it’s cheap and delicious.

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4.  Green peppers — diced, not sliced.  Trust me, the chunks of pepper stay in the sub way better than slices.  I didn’t take pictures of the peppers.

5. Cheese.  I used Daiya’s mozzarella style shreds.  I’ve used the cheddar shreds before and I don’t like them, but I have no issue with the mozzarella.  Maybe I will have to give the Monterrey jack a try as well!

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Found at:  Farm Boy or Goodness Me.  I haven’t found it in any mainstream grocery stores.

So here are the steps I used:

  • cut open the bun and toast it (I have a toaster oven — I imagine you could use your oven’s broiler if you don’t)
  • heat the meatballs in the microwave from frozen (about a minute and a half, rotating half way through).  NOTE:  Do not stuff this bun with meatballs.  It WILL fall apart.
  • Put about 5 meatballs on the toasted sub.
  • Heat the sauce in the microwave in a bowl for about 45 seconds (make sure you cover the bowl with paper towel or something to save yourself the splatters)
  • spoon sauce over the meatballs
  • add diced green peppers on top of the sauce
  • cover with mozzarella shreds and put in the broiler until the cheese is melty.  Everything else was cooked and warm, so that is the only thing it needs to be in there for.  If you leave it in for too long with the sauce sitting on the seam of the bun, it will get soggy.
  • Make sure you have napkins ready.
  • If you’re looking a wine pairing for any of my recipes, I hate wine.  I have paired with Jack Daniel’s Watermelon Punch cooler, and with Cherry Coke.  Both are excellent options 😉

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And ….. I found……. VEGAN BAILEY’S

It’s here.  It’s arrived in Canada!  Words can’t describe my excitement to be able to drink Bailey’s again.  Gosh, this post makes me sound like an alcoholic… I promise I’m not.

But…. the possibilities here are endless.

I haven’t opened it yet, I haven’t tried it.  It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m trying to contain myself.  But…. Irish Coffee?  yes, please!

On shelves at your local LCBO now.  Check out The LCBO website to check store availability and see if it’s close to you.  I know it’s just arrived in the last two weeks because I asked about it a couple weeks ago, having seen it in an American blog post, and the staff had no idea what I was talking about.

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Alright!  That’s all I have for you today!  What are your favourite comfort foods?  Can I help you make them gluten or dairy free?  I’m getting really good at that!  🙂

Check out So Delicious, Daiya, and Promise for other products in the same vein as these.

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Wheat and Dairy Free Adventures


I’ve been (mostly) off of wheat and dairy for well over a year now.  What started as a desperate attempt to figure out why I was not feeling awesome… turned into an elimination of wheat, dairy, and sugar (and onions which I already knew I couldn’t eat).  After 8 weeks I got the sugar back, but the wheat and dairy I left out because of how much better I felt.

But that has started a year-long quest to find food that is GOOD, that also doesn’t have any wheat or dairy in it.  For me, I’m not worried about cross-contamination and actual gluten, and I cheat from time to time (though there are consequences).
I’ve decided in that quest, I should share my findings with anyone who will listen/read.  With anyone who wants wheat free and dairy free food that still tastes like food as much as I do.

I’ve found three things to start with in the last couple of days.  Disclaimer:  I’m a terrible food photographer.  I hope that this improves as I go along.  Also — I’d opened the food already when I decided to do this.  And some of it is gone.  So…. you get packages.

1.    Sandwich buns, which I used as hot dog buns.  Promise Gluten Free comes all the way from Ireland!  Since I’m going there for vacation in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS, I can’t tell you how excited I am that they have a company that is successful enough at making gluten free food that they export to Canada.  It means I’ll be able to eat!  I hope.

Overall:  The buns were not bad.  If you’re looking for a bun that still has that chewy, gluten-y texture…. well, I’ve yet to find one.  Let me know if you do!  But this tastes pretty good, it was soft (despite having been frozen and then flown across the ocean, thawed, and then sold to me), and the biggest accomplishment I find with gluten free food…. it didn’t fall apart!  They held together through the whole meal, and did not crumble.  I can’t tell you how many brands of Gluten Free hamburger and hot dog buns I’ve tried, only to be left with one very happy dog, because they’ve crumbled around the meat and I’ve finished my meal with a knife and fork.  Plus one for Promise!  The dog lost out a little bit on that deal, though…

If you’re also soy free or nut free, Promise can meet that demand, too!

Price:  3.99 (Canadian) for 3 buns.
Found at:  Metro

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Also — pro tip!  When you’re used to eating hot dogs and hamburgers bun-less, you fill up a lot faster with the buns on.

2.  Promise Gluten Free Lemon Loaf.

This I could take or leave.  I love lemon cake, so the bar was high.  It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a bit too dry.  Again, this was made in Ireland, frozen, shipped across the ocean, thawed, and sold to me.  It didn’t hold up to that journey quite as well as the buns did.  I did enjoy the crunchy sugar bits on top!  I probably won’t buy it again, because for the price I’m sure I could make my own, and it would likely be moist.

Price: 4.99 for one loaf
Found at: Metro

3. So Delicious Coconut Milk “Frozen Dessert” — chocolate chip cookie dough flavour.
The closest I can get to ice cream.  So Delicious also makes a spectacular cashew milk dark chocolate fudge flavour, but I was in the mood for cookie dough.  There’s something special about the sweet and salty combination that I have always loved!  It’s perfect for these hot, sticky summer days!

And as an added bonus, the cookie dough bits are also gluten free!

Price:  5.99 (on sale — regular 6.99)
Found at: Metro

Stay tuned for more finds!  I hope to be able to share my favourites out of the Canadian Gluten and Dairy Free market 🙂

 

Find Promise Gluten Free products at a store near you!

To Be Continued…


“Get our mouths watering with a description of your favorite dish, but make us wait for the recipe.”

That’s one of the several options for WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge this week.  I haven’t done one of these in a while, but this topic grabbed my attention.  Mostly… I’m excited because I tried a new recipe tonight and it was delicious, and I will make it again and again, I’m sure.  Easy enough to look up how to make it… but with a twist.

So I made Spaghetti Squash.  I’ve never made it before, and I loved it.

It’s a pretty simple concept, really:  Replace your pasta with a vegetable if you don’t want the carbs that convert to sugar that convert to fat, which I don’t.

Here’s a link to a blog post with pretty similar instructions to mine, but this blogger took much better pictures as she went along, so if you need the visuals, here ya go 🙂

Step 1:  Buy a spaghetti squash.  If you’re like me, and you’re totally useless in the kitchen and by extension, in the grocery store, you’ll want to take a friend with you to show you how to pick out a ripe one.

Step 2:  Cut spaghetti squash in half.  This may actually be the most challenging part.  Use a good, strong knife.

Step 3:  Scoop all the seeds and stringy-ness out.  Like you’re gutting a pumpkin to carve it.  Side note:  Has anyone ever toasted the seeds of a spaghetti squash?  I had no idea its innards looked like those of a pumpkin.

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Step 4:  In a large-ish, glass baking dish, put a couple inches of water in the bottom, and place your spaghetti squash on the bottom so it looks like you have two yellow domes sticking out of your dish.  The part you just cleaned out should be on the bottom.

Step 5:  Put in an oven preheated to 350 for 45 minutes.

Step 6:  Remove from oven.  Take a fork, and shred all the spaghetti-like but totally vegetable goodness out of the shell of the squash.  Careful!  The baking dish as well as both halves of the squash are VERY hot.

Step 7:  Serve with your favourite pasta sauce, here’s what I did for mine.

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*Note:  Even though it’s all vegetables (and I added some meatballs), it’s deceptively filling.  I will never presume that I can eat half of a squash on my own again.  I champed it, but I was full.  I either need to buy a smaller squash, or split it into three meals.  I think without the meatballs I’d have been fine, though.  Who knows?  Maybe my portion sizing is way out of whack.  I don’t care, it was all I was eating.

Sauce.

Step 1:  Buy a can of crushed tomatoes.  Not spaghetti sauce.  I’m trying to ditch sugar, here, and this is one of many good places to cut it out.

Step 2:  heat over LOW heat.  Make sure you either cover your pot or stir constantly.  I forgot this step, and had to scrub crushed tomato sauce off my cupboards when I was finished.

Step 3:  Add the most delicious blend of spices I’ve ever concocted…. that I’m not going to tell you about.

There’s your cliffhanger.

To be continued.

#bestweekendever


This weekend was the best weekend…. quite possibly of my entire life to date…. I seriously can’t remember a time where I’ve had more fun, laughed harder, or been sadder when it ended.

I did a Color Me Rad 5k in Hamilton this weekend… well, at Christie Lake Conservation Area… and I’ve never been, but it’s beautiful, and I’d love to go back and hike/wander at a time when it wasn’t being overrun by runners.  haha I’m punny.

I ran it with two dear friends and a new friend.  Now this new friend is unlike any other new friend.  Have you ever met anyone where the second you’re introduced, you know you’re going to be mega bummed when you have to part ways?  I’ve only ever had it happen one other time in my life.  But it happened yesterday.

I met Jeannie right before we got in the car to drive to Dundas.  We’d been informally introduced by Ange on Facebook, but boy oh boy Facebook does not do this new friend justice.

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Oh, bad habit we fostered this weekend… I now hash tag at completely inappropriate times and I think it’s hysterical.  I’m sure not everyone will agree, and I’ll have to try really really hard not to say “hash tag criss cross applesauce” tomorrow, I’m quite certain.

We hit up Starbucks pre-race, because everyone needs a little caffeine, sugar and whipped topping to course through their veins before a 5k.  (Please note, most of us are not hardcore runners by any stretch of the means, and this being a fun run, we decided to maximize the fun and minimize the run).

We weren’t quite sure where to go, but stopped at a stoplight, to what did our wandering eyes did appear, but a lovely young lady with “RAD” tattooed on her face.  I yelled out from the backseat…. “FOLLOW THAT SUBARU!”  And we did.  Thankfully, they knew where they were going!

We arrived, took copious selfies as we got all layered up and warm and ready to #beastit.  Walking toward the check-in point where we picked up our swag, Becky yells out “I HAVE A CRAMP!” and the laughter started all over again.

I also have to admit that for the first time in my life, I fell prey to the duck face photo… I’ve never done one before that wasn’t clearly mocking everyone else who’s ever done one… and I’m looking back through the pictures now to realize to my own shock and horror that I duck faced… on my own phone… and I kind of like the picture an awful lot.

We stopped along the way, took many more selfies, asked strangers to take pictures of us, and we laughed and laughed and laughed….

We changed in the parking lot… legit.  Well, now me…. I chickened out and changed in an outhouse.  I should have changed in the parking lot…. it was gross.

We went for lunch and professionally carb loaded.  East Side Marios anyone?  I don’t think we truly deserved it since we didn’t run that hard, but meh!

Then, after some time apart (mostly to spend the whole time showering to get the corn starch dye off of everywhere…. seriously… it went through two shirts.  EVERYWHERE!), we met back up at Value Village and then back to one of our houses to continue the fun.

The fun spilled into today, but then Jeannie left.  And while I still have other amazing friends here, and I do not take them for granted, I love my new friend already.  It’s like I’ve known her all my life.  And I hope I see her again soon.

And — if you’ve never done a colour run — I highly recommend that you find the nearest one and sign up.  Amazing.  You don’t need to be a runner.  You don’t need to run the whole thing!  The first one I did, a lady did it in flip flops and her wedding dress…. seriously… do it.

Please enjoy the pictorial recap of what I just wrote to you…. and I have not included the picture of what my bathtub looked like at the end…. but it was gross.  (ps — the pic of me running is me imitating the Phoebe Run from Friends... I don’t actually run like that…. I hope…. and I definitely didn’t run into a horse)

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oh… and the dye is Gluten Free!  (random fact)