May Contain Gluten…

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This picture of my gfbff Ari perfectly encapsulates how I often feel at the grocery store when finding out naturally gluten-free products may contain gluten!

A term I have grown to hate is “may contain gluten”. Why do these plain whole almonds maybe contain gluten? I understand the argument for cross contamination but the label makes me nervous. While companies are trying to cover their liability by saying may contain it reminds me way too much of the cheapest possible boxed wine I drank many times while backpacking in Australia in my early 20s. After drinking it throughout our travels we realized it may contain milk, fish and eggs! Bottom line those of us with celiac disease should avoid “may contain foods” but it is nevertheless annoying to have to avoid “safe” foods because of possible contamination in processing.

This post a little bit of a rant but it is something that I see almost everyday and as someone who loves to eat it haunts many of my meals and grocery store outings. I will take this as a sign it’s time to eat even healthier this year, cooking more at home and going to that second store to find that cayenne pepper that is marked gluten-free. It’s extra work, but feeling well is worth it. By bringing light to this and voicing our concern to companies we can make them better aware of the importance of avoiding cross-contamination and creating truly gluten-free and allergen-free products.

Do you ever eat products that should be gluten-free but state that they may contain gluten on the label?

Gluten-Free Product Review: Skinny Pasta Frozen Meals

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Based on the packaging I wouldn’t be a fan of these meals. I don’t like that it’s called “Skinny” pasta, to me it’s a play on the idea we should be smaller and also I don’t need my lunch to only be 240 calories. I had previously tried this product when it was under another name and loved these frozen meals. Despite my initial apprehensions I am now a huge fan of the frozen butternut squash ravioli. I love this product mainly because it is delicious but I also appreciate the price point, quality, ease and small ingredient list. As a working student I often have 12 hour days and these meals mean I can avoid picking up a $15 lunch that may have been contaminated by gluten. I got these in the frozen section of my local Rachel-Berri for $5.50 on sale. They take about 5 minutes in the microwave. Try them out, I highly recommend it if you miss ravioli and need a solid option for a quick back-up lunch. I tried the cheese and butternut squash and while I like the cheese one, I much preferred the squash.

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3 Cheese

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Butternut Squash

 

Gluten-free Iceland- Part II

Hiking Landmannalaugar

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We booked a 5 day trekking tour with Extreme Iceland and my partner chose this company as it is well regarded, but also as it has a gluten-free meal option for about $10 dollars CAN extra each day. The meals worked out quite well and I had lots of gluten-free options to eat. It is always a little complicated to cook in a shared space and keep everything gluten-free but another guest on the trek was also gluten-free, which made me feel less like an outsider. Each night we prepared meals at a different lodge where we were staying with our small group and other hikers. Many of the meals for the group were prepared beforehand by a chef and were put together with a salad in the lodges we stayed at.

I made sure to always take part in the food prep which made everything easier and we had our own gluten-free box full of gf oats, snacks and breads. Each morning we would make sandwiches for the day to bring in our packs with gluten-free bread and there were lots of cookies and snacks. The tour guides spoke Icelandic so they could read the packaging of some of the products. Overall, it went well and while it was a challenge it was much easier that they provided so much gluten-free food and that most of the meals were gluten-free as is, such as salmon, potatoes and salad. Overall we has an amazing time on our trek. Our experience, guide and group were amazing and I highly recommend Extreme Iceland for anyone, gf or not.

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Snacking on my gluten-free sandwich during the day

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Always the prepared gluten-free boyfriend, he brought me extra supplies like Annie’s for the night we ate lamb that was gluten-free but too much meat for this former vegetarian

Gluten-free salmon on the BBQ

Gluten-free salmon on the BBQ

Yummy gluten-free veggie soup

Yummy gluten-free veggie soup

Our group at the dinner table

Our group at the dinner table

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Natural hot springs

Natural hot springs

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The Blue Lagoon

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Enjoying the Blue Lagoon

Lava Restaurant was very accommodating, they were able to prepare most of the menu gluten-free and were even able to prepare us a crėme brûlée upon request when we didn’t fancy the gluten-free option on the menu. My main gripe is that my meal was the most expensive of the trip and by far not the best we had in Iceland. But we did thoroughly enjoy our time at the Blue Lagoon and had a super relaxing time.

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Lobster Soup

Lobster Soup

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The delicious dessert they made on request


Basically, if you like fish, lamb and yogurt it is relatively easy to go gluten-free in Iceland. I hope you get a chance to one day visit this magical place!

Gluten-free in Iceland- Part I

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Seljalandfoss

This past July my partner and I spent 10 days in Iceland. We ate our way through Reykjavik, did some day trips and a 5 day trekking tour. We had an incredible time and the gluten-free options were pretty decent. As usual when traveling, it’s cheaper and easier to bring some snacks like granola, nuts and energy bars from home. Iceland is expensive and while meals are pricey we were able to eat some delicious and fancy meals for less than $90 CAN for two. You just have to watch what you order.

I found Gluten is my Bitch’s post about Iceland super helpful in planning where to eat: https://glutenismybitch.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/gluten-free-iceland-blue-lagoon-to-rotten-shark/

Below are some of the places we ate in Reykjavik and Part II features the Blue Lagoon and our Trek.

Reykjavik

We had lunch our first day at Fiskfelagid. This restaurant came highly recommended by a friend and we opted for lunch since it was almost half price and dinners can run around $60 CAN for an entrée. We got to eat outside which was lovely. Our lunches were delicious and it was a great way to start a trip. Most of the dishes offered could be prepared gluten-free.

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Lunch at Fiskfelagid

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The fish with veggies was amazing


We had dinner at Sakebarinn our first night.  I had seen this place listed online as gluten-free friendly and they were very knowledgable on gluten-free and had gf soy sauce. We had a delicious meal and without alcohol it was also decently affordable.

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The following we had dinner at Hradlestin, an Indian restaurant. We went to their more casual location and ate at there from takeout containers, which was perfect since we were exhausted after an all day tour. Most of the options on the menu were gluten-free and we had leftovers for the next day.

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When we were walking around we found  Reykjavik Chips . They only served fries so they were all gluten-free and all their sauces, except for 2, were gluten-free as well. It’s a nice casual place to pick-up a snack. I always love perfect fries, especially when I’m travelling.

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I could eat these fries with chive sauce all day!

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The night we got back from our trek we had dinner with some of our new friends at Snaps. They had quite a few gluten-free options and our group had a great dinner. My fish was delish and there was almost too much!!

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Bonus Grocery store is where we picked up our gluten-free snacks, pasta and some Skyr yogurt. The store we visited right downtown had a whole mini aisle of gluten-free products filled with yummy flatbreads and cookies.

http://www.bonus.is/

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Making Gluten-Free Bread in a Bread Maker- a few tips & a recipe!

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My lovely girlfriends gifted me a fancy Cuisinart bread maker for my birthday and I have been waiting until I mastered a recipe to share one here. I tried several recipes and while they were all decent one was better than the others and that was a recipe my friend Emilie sent me from her mom, who has been making this recipe she found in a cookbook for several years. It was in French so I have translated it here. This bread is amazing and super soft. It’s also nice to know exactly went into it and there is nothing like the smell of my apartment when it’s baking. So while there are some ingredients you will most probably have to go out and buy, once your pantry is stocked it is relatively easy. Once the ingredients are in the machine you don’t have to do a thing, only wait until that delicious loaf is done!

Thanks to my gluten-free best friends for ever (GFBFF’s) for the bread maker and the great recipe! There is something special about getting to make delicious bread for those you love.

To start here are a few tips on using a bread maker:

  1. Since there are quite a few ingredients and I can lose my focus when baking with all the measurements, I find it much easier to measure everything out before hand. It makes it much simpler to combine everything in the mixing bowl of the bread maker and this way I am less likely to miss something.
  2. You will have to play around with the settings on your bread maker. My friends bought me this model as it has a gluten-free setting and it worked well but this recipe specified the use a regular rapid setting, so I used #2 on my machine “Rapid White” and it works perfectly.
  3. Make sure to use a spatula to carefully wipe the sides of the pan while it is mixing so all the flour gets mixed in correctly, if not you can have dry flour patches baked into the sides of your loaf. **IMPORTANT**

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Emilie’s Moms Famous Gluten-Free Loaf

  • 1 3/8 cups of hot water (Water can be heated in the microwave for 60 seconds)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 TBSPs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3 TBSPs ground flaxseed (I did it myself in my Blendtec)
  • 1 TBSP xanthan gym
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder (gluten-free)
  • 1 TBSP active dry yeast or instant yeast

Put the bread pan in the machine. To start combine the beaten eggs with the water and pour it into the bread pan. Now add the other ingredients in the order they are listed, making a small hole with your fingers for the yeast and pour it in last.

The suggested setting is Quick Bread and on my machine it is option 2 “Rapid White”, not the gluten-free setting. So set your machine to rapid cook or the equivalent, with a dark crust and 2lb setting and start the machine and wait. I added some flax seeds on top when it started the rise cycle but that is optional.

When the bread is finished, mine took around 3 hours, using oven mitts turn the bread pan over onto a baking rack and let the bread cool for at least an hour and once cooled it should be stored in the fridge (wrapped in a cloth and then put in a plastic bag), but I prefer to keep it on the counter if it will be eaten quickly.

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Delicious Grilled Cheese made with my bread!

A delicious panini made with my bread!

Gluten-free around Sandbanks National Park

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In June I got to take a mini-vacation with a group of friends to the Sandbanks in Ontario. We rented a great house near the Sandbanks National park and visited a few beaches and just relaxed. While we ate at the house most of the time the two places we went we visited were:

The County Cider Company

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We did a cider tasting for $1.50 and then sat outside and drank some pints. They were only serving snacks at the time so I just had cider. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area.

www.countycider.com

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The County Canteen

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For dinner the next day we ate at this gastro pub in the center of Picton that has a quite a few gf options on their menu and also can adapt some of the other dishes to be gf as well. We had chicken wings and curry. If you are in the area and this is a decent option for a gluten-free meal. There was also live music and a fun atmosphere.

http://www.thecountycanteen.com/

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The Sobey’s in Picton is a gluten-free dream, they even had gluten-free graham crackers for smores! So no need to bring stuff from home.

Happy gluten-free Summer travels!

Gluten-free in London

Little Venice

Little Venice, near the Truscott Arms

I recently spent 2.5 days in London and ate all the gluten-free things! London was great for gluten-free.  I did a little research before I left (always recommended) and I had an amazing time eating my way across the city. I found great options everywhere I went, even at the airport. We also spent some time in Preston and Manchester where I also didn’t have a problem finding things to eat.

Honest Burger

We stayed near Portobello Road so we had lunch at Honest Burger.  This was a great find as all the burgers could be made gluten-free. The staff were friendly and our meals were delicious. I highly recommend having a burger here. It had been a really long time since I had a chicken burger, maybe 12 years! They also had a great drink menu and we sat looking out onto the market.

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Gluten-free chicken burger with fries

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Gluten-free beer!

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People watching from the table on Portobello Road

Dishoom

We then had dinner at Dishoom and it was amazing. I had heard about this Indian restaurant a few times and decided we had to try it. They had a gluten-free menu and all the choices my table wanted to order were gluten-free. There are really long waits, but we waited 30 minutes outside and then another 30 at the bar but it was really worth it. There are 4 locations in London and we visited the one near King’s Cross.

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Raita & dahl

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We shared a bunch of dishes…

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The gluten-free dessert & drink menu at Dishoom

Borough Market

The next day we had brunch at Roast, right in Borough market. The location was great but the food was so-so, not worth the price at all. You are better off getting a pie or some cupcakes in the market the Free From Bakehouse. Everything we tried from this stand was delicious.

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Roast

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Borough Market

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The Free From Bakehouse in Borough Market

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The Free From Bakehouse

Corner Room

For dinner we went to the Corner Room with some friends of my partner. We had a delicious dinner and most of the dishes could be made gluten-free. My main was amazing.

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Tomato Starter at Corner Room

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Dessert at Corner Room

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Corner Room’s version of Eton Mess

Ottolenghi

The next day we walked through the Columbia Road Flower Market and went to the Spitalfields Ottolenghi location for lunch. We each had a main with a choice of two delicious salads and most of the options were gluten-free already. We also took home some delicious meringues for dessert.

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Columbia Road Flower Market

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An assortment of gf salads at Ottolenghi

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Gluten-free lunch at Ottolenghi

Truscott Arms

For dinner we went to the Truscott Arms and I had amazing gluten-free fish and chips. It was such a treat to be able to have flaky and delicious fish and chips. After most of the plate and two ciders I was very full and happy despite my sadness over ending our 3 week vacation. My partner had the Sunday Roast with all the fixings.  We had a great time at this pub near Little Venice and recommend it if you are in the area and craving fish and chips.

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Cider & gluten-free fish & chips at the Truscott Arms