Gluten-Free Passover Dinner

Toasting friends and a great gluten-free seder.

Toasting friends and a great gluten-free Passover dinner

The title of this blog comes from my friends and family who are my GFBFFs (gluten-free best friends forever). I am very blessed with a group of friends who are very accommodating to the fact that I have celiac disease and constantly go out of their way to assure I can eat safely whether it be at one of their homes or when we are out.

This was on display this past week when my friend invited us all over for a Passover dinner that was 95% gluten-free and 100% vegetarian. I always find it easier when cooking for a group to keep the meal 100% gluten-free or at least to keep the non gluten-free items completely separate, in this case we prepared the glutenous part of the meal in a different area and served it separately. Here are some ideas to help make your next Passover more gluten-free friendly.

On the menu:

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup: We used a gluten-free mix and added garlic, onion, carrot and celery to the broth.

Vegetable Latkes made with potato starch and “matzo meal” made from gf kosher for passover crackers: we didn’t really use a recipe. We grated carrot, zucchini and onion in a food processor, removed the excess liquid and combined the veggies with eggs, potato starch and the crackers (which had been pulsed pulsed in a blender). Then we fried them in oil. It was that easy.

Flourless chocolate cookies: http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously These were delicious and according to the hostess easy to make. A great anytime gluten-free recipe.

Prepping Dinner

Two of my GFBFFs Prepping Dinner

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup Mix

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup Mix

Gluten-Free Kosher for Passover Crackers

Gluten-Free Kosher for Passover Crackers

Gluten-Free Veggie Latkes made with zucchini, carrot and onion

Gluten-Free Veggie Latkes made with zucchini, carrot and onion

Flourless Cookies

Flourless Cookies

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The Best Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

ookies (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

At first I would tell people these cookies are made with only almond flour,  sweetened with agave and vegan, but now I just put them out and watch them disappear. While not a traditional chocolate chip cookie, these are a favorite amongst my friends and I often get asked why I didn’t make these when I bring another type of cookie to a get together (I won’t name any names but you know who you are!).

These cookies are super easy to make and no one will ever know they are gluten-free or vegan. You may not have all the ingredients in your kitchen, but once you get stocked up they practically make themselves. Many gluten-free recipes call for weighing flours and making your own flour blends. While I sometimes wish I had the patience and dedication, that is just not me. I want to make the best cookie with minimal effort.

I have adapted the recipe from the Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. For the flour I usually use JK gourmet which you can find in most health food stores (it is a good idea to keep your almond flour refrigerated). Almond flour is a bit pricey but these cookies are worth it. Must I remind you that the majority of store bought gluten-free cookies cost a fortune and are mediocre at best.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (I used fine grain, but these are best with flaked sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp gf baking soda
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp gf vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (you can use less- I like a lot of chocolate)

Makes about 24 cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. In a smaller bowl combine the vanilla, oil and agave with a whisk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir in the chocolate chips until combined. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes (I often skip this step and find it works out fine).

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and spoon out the dough in tbsps. Put the cookies in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Watch them carefully as almond flour burns easily.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 20 minutes, they are soft so let them sit.

These are amazing on their own but they also make an amazing ice cream sandwich (I keep mine vegan by using a coconut based ice cream).

Almond Flour Cookies (Gluten-Free & Vegan)IMG_5146

Gluten-Free in Montreal: Point G Macarons

IMG_4999My favorite place to pick up certified gluten-free macarons in Montreal is Boutique Point G on Mont-Royal E. Most macarons are gluten-free as they are made with ground almonds, but there are some places in Montreal where certain flavors are not gf or they have come in contact with gluten. Always make sure when it comes to macarons.

All the macarons at Point G are gluten-free and so are most of the products sold in the store. They are great for any occasion and also make a really nice gift.

They have a cute store on Mont Royal and their macarons are also sold at some bakeries across the city. My favourites are the Caramel Fleur de Sel, Poppy Flower and Lavender-Blueberry.

Boutique Point G- 1266 rue Mont-Royal est, Montreal, H2J 1Y3

http://www.boutiquepointg.com/

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Avocado Cream Sauce- Perfect with Gluten-Free Pasta

Avocado Cream Sauce

This vegan/raw “cream” sauce is super easy to make, ridiculously fresh tasting and will be your best friend if you are a big fan of avocados and lemon. This is one of those recipes that I can see people being very divided over. If you like the simple ingredients listed I guarantee this will become a go to recipe. If you aren’t crazy about avocados you might want to stay away. It tastes like a light and lemony creamy pasta without the dairy. Since it is basically just avocado you will have to eat it up right away, I can only imagine it will be an ugly colored mess the next day.

You will need:

  • one ripe avocado
  • juice of approximately half a lemon
  • handful of fresh basil (other herbs should work)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine it all in a blender (I used my magic bullet) and served it on your favorite gluten-free pasta. I served mine on my go to gluten-free fettuccine. It’s almost too easy!

This recipe feeds two. Or one, if you are like me and eat the remainder on gf toast immediately.

Original Recipe: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/01/31/15-minute-creamy-avocado-pasta/

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Cashew Cream Sauce (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Gluten-Free Pasta with Cashew Cream Sauce

If you love cream sauce and cashews there is little better than this easy sauce served with your favorite roasted veggies and pasta. I had put off making this sauce forever thinking it was complicated and my best friend showed me that it is the easiest recipe ever. All you really need is a high powered blender. This recipe really is a lazy, gluten-free, vegan cooks dream. This is a great go to healthier alternative to dairy based cream sauces. While it is amazingly delicious, no one will mistake this for a classic alfredo sauce. I almost think it’s better, but that’s coming from a cashew obsessed vegan food lover.

BTW- That Parma Veg alternative “cheese” is delicious and 100% gluten-free.

Cashew Cream Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups raw plain cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (gluten-free)
  • a few pinches of chili flakes to taste
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (gluten-free)
  • 2 cloves garlic (one if you prefer it less garlicky)

Place all the ingredients in a high powered blender (we used a NutriBullet)  and combine until it makes a sauce. About 30 seconds. It’s that easy. You can add more water if you want a thinner sauce, more nutritional yeast if you want it “cheesier” and or more spice if that’s how you like it (we added sriracha).

We served ours with pasta and roasted veggies (mushroom and broccoli roasted with oil, salt and pepper for about 20 minutes). You can bake the finished product in the oven for 15-20 minutes to make a kind of baked macaroni if you want, but we served it as is. The sauce stores well in the fridge for a few days.

Adapted from this recipe by Tara Stiles

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Gluten-Free in Montreal: Where to buy gluten-free products

Gluten-Free Macarons from Point G at Jean-Talon Market

Gluten-Free Macarons from Point G at Jean-Talon Market

It has gotten easier find gluten-free products in Montreal. Here is a list of a few places around the city find what you need:

Health Food Stores:

I am definitely biased towards smaller stores that magically carry all the gluten-free products I need. I definitely get frustrated when I go into one of those huge health food stores (not naming any names) and they don’t carry gluten-free oats, almond flour and other basics.

A few of my favourites are in my old neighborhood:

A Votre Sante in NDG/Westmount: This store near Vendome Metro is small but carries most of my favorite products like JK Gourmet Almond Flour, Cream Hill Estates Oats and Udis’ Bagels.

Fleur Sauvage on Monkland: Another good bet with a range of products.

Gluten-Free Bakeries:

Le Marquis Sans Gluten, near Jean Talon Market: This is a great place to find fresh bread, cakes and products. A rarity in Montreal, a real bakery full of fresh baked goods, 100% gluten-free.  (https://thegfbff.com/2013/11/10/gluten-free-in-montreal-le-marquis-sans-gluten/)

Cookie Stephanie, in the Old Port: Great coffee and lots of cookies and cupcakes. I’m a big fan of the carrot cake and it’s definitely worth the detour on my way home from work to pick a few little loaves up (https://thegfbff.com/2013/11/28/gluten-free-in-montreal-cookie-stephanie/)

Mi & Stu, in Mile End: This 100% gluten-free bakery makes products sold across the city and they have a small store front. Their challah bread and rolls are amazing. I would recommend calling in advance to get something specific, particularly if you would like to make a special order (they have made things egg free for me) and to make sure they have what you are after. This is a great place to pick up dairy free/gluten-free cupcakes for a party.

Gluten-Free Specialty Stores:

Louise Sans Gluten, in Dorval: This is gluten-free heaven. While a little out of the way, unless you live in Dorval, this place is worth the trek. The store features pretty much every gluten-free product you can imagine and some fresh baked goods such as cookies, cakes and mini donuts. They make an amazing baguette twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays (call first to check).

Boutique Point G, on Mont-Royal in the Plateau: All their macarons are gluten-free and delicious. They can also be found prepackaged at a few bakeries across the city and make a great gift or dessert to bring to an event/party.

There are lots of other places in the city. These are just a few of my favorites.

Gluten-Free in Montreal: Brunch at Aux Vivres

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Aux Vivres is a great place to go in Montreal for a fresh vegan meal. The Buddha Bowl  with broccoli and the Choco Classique Smoothie are my favorites for lunch/dinner. If I’m in the area I often do pick-up.

This winter morning we had brunch and I loved my coffee, beet, carrot and apple juice and gluten-free granola with soy yogurt and fruit (the small was more than enough for me). My friend Nick also had a gluten-free brunch option, polenta with beans, tofu scramble and guacamole that is amazing. A great brunch with great friends where everyone can eat is always appreciated.

Aux Vivres is a great option for gluten-free friendly food in the Plateau. There are dishes with gluten so always double check that what you are ordering is gluten-free.

UPDATE July 2015: I just visited Aux Vivres and noticed that they have removed all the GF signs from their menu as there is a risk of cross contamination in the kitchen. All the bowls and salads are still considered safe but they are no longer identifying items as GF on the menu.

Aux Vivres

4631 boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
(514) 842-3479

http://www.auxvivres.com/en/home/

La Polenta

La Polenta

Nick was very happy with his brunch...

Nick was very happy with his brunch…

Coffee and fresh juice is the best way to wake up

Coffee and fresh juice is the best way to wake up

Catching up with friends over great food and keeping warm.

Catching up with friends over great food and keeping warm.

Easy Smashed Chickpea Salad (Gluten-Free)

2014-01-13 20.16.35This smashed chickpea salad is one of my favorite things to make and it only takes a few minutes. I often make a double batch to eat throughout the week. It is great on it’s own, as a filler in a sandwich or as an addition to a salad. My preference is to serve it on gluten-free toast with mayo.

The simple combo of chickpeas, lemon, red onion and parsley is always perfect. It’s an easy thing to throw together for a group and make in large quantities if you want to bring something that is healthy and gluten-free for everyone to share.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped red onion
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest and juice from half a lemon (you can use more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few TBSPs of  olive oil (to taste)

Note: This is really a no measurement recipe. I just gave suggestions, feel free to play with amounts.

Mix everything but the olive oil in a medium sized bowl and lightly smash the chickpea mixture with a fork or a potato masher (I sometimes omit this step if using it as a salad). Add the olive oil and mix it all together.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Gluten-free should be easy: Flourless PB Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flourless PB, Oatmeal Choc Chip Cookies (GF)The coming New Year has motivated me to write a little more and share more recipes. As always they will be easy, mostly healthy, mainly vegetarian/vegan and completely gluten-free.

I want to put the word easy in front of every recipe I post because that is what is most important to me. While I have the highest level of admiration for gluten-free blogs featuring the most amazing perfect gf cakes, bagels, croissants… I don’t have the patience. I don’t have a food scale, I can’t be bothered with conversions and I try to avoid going to a million stores to buy special ingredients. What you get are simple recipes such as this cookie that calls for ingredients you probably have in your cupboard or can get at a normal grocery store, except maybe the certified gf oats- my little grocery definitely does not carry those.

The reality is that I have a not so fancy kitchen, zero pricey kitchen gadgets and an unreliable oven. That being said if this year is the year you want to start doing more in the kitchen there isn’t a better time. There are thousands of amazing gluten-free recipes out there to try, my Pinterest has a bunch: How Sweet it is to be Gluten-Free and Gluten Free.

2014 will feature lots more of my staple, easy recipes that won’t keep you in the kitchen for more than an hour and won’t have you cleaning up all afternoon. Because who has time for that!

All the best for 2014!!!!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are the perfect combination of PB, oats and chocolate.

What would happen if a peanut butter cookie, oatmeal cookie and chocolate chip cookie got together and had a cookie baby?

Ingredients

Makes 18-22 cookies

  • 2/3 cup Certified Gluten-Free Oats (I use Cream Hill Estates)
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (not natural, you need the processed kind)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp GF Vanilla
  • 1 tsp GF Baking Soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl mix the oats and baking soda.

In a large mixing bowl combine the peanut butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla with a spoon or hand mixer, mixing for several minutes until well combined (at least 3 minutes). Add oat mixture and mix until combine with a spoon and then fold in chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (2). Press the cookies down lightly with your hand (just a little). Note: If your dough is too runny to roll into balls just spoon the batter onto the cookie sheet, they will still bake perfectly.

Bake in oven for 9 to 11 minutes until they are just starting to brown on the edges. It’s okay if they look a little undercooked, they taste better this way and firm up after a few minutes.

Let them cool slightly and you’re done!

Note: Make sure to use certified GF oats and even then some people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate oats.

Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

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Post Holiday Detox: Cannellini Bean and Swiss Chard Soup (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

2013-12-28 13.51.58One of the effects of having so many great GF BFFs is that I get spoiled with gluten-free treats over the holidays. After many gluten-free Birthday and Holiday dinners, sweets and macarons I needed some healthy soup with lots of greens.

This is a basic soup that can be adapted many ways once you find the flavors you like. I would try kale, spinach and gigante beans. It’s super easy to make, has lots of flavor and makes for a great lunch or detox meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly diced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly diced
  • 2 leeks, well cleaned and thinly chopped
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups GF vegetable stock or chicken stock (I used organic GF cubes)
  • 2 TBSPs olive oil
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems discarded and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the leeks, onion and garlic for about 10 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove 2-3 cups of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the pureed soup to the remainder of the soup in the pot. Increase the heat and add the swiss chard, cooking the soup for about 3 minutes until the swiss chard wilts.

Serve immediately. I served mine with a drizzle of olive oil.

Adapted from It’s All Good. I love this cookbook featuring healthy and gluten-free recipes.

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