Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dusting Off My Oven

Hello friends!!  How is everyone’s week going so far?  We are definitely seeing a change of seasons in these parts; the air is crisper, some leaves are changing colour, the apple trees are heavy with fruit……fall is without a doubt licking at summers feet!  The cooler evenings have been poking at the “baker” hibernating inside to let me know that it’s A-OK to crank the oven up and get the aroma of goodies in the air.  I’ve already baked up some delicious gluten free zucchini muffins which didn’t last very long at all!  IMG_6298 Something I’ve really been missing since trying out this gluten free diet is granola.  I did buy a bag of Bakery On Main Cranberry Orange Cashew granola, but before I could try it more than once a mouse got into our pantry and ate a hole through the bag.  But that is another story!  DOH!!  So after hearing my friend rave about a granola recipe her husband had made, I emailed him requesting the it.  Turns out it’s from the Quinoa 365 cookbook which I then borrowed from a co worker.  The only change my friend made to the recipe was to replace 1 cup of the rolled oats for quinoa flakes so I followed suit.  The following photos were taken at night and don’t do this recipe justice, but let me tell you….IT WAS AMAZING!!!IMG_6313 IMG_6312 Jason and I had to sequester ourselves in the living room because we were eating it by the handful straight from the oven.  LOL  The recipe made 7 cups which just fit into my 4 litre storage container!IMG_6316   Here’s what’s left.IMG_6353 We’ve enjoyed it with yogurt, as a cereal with milk (I’ve been using So Delicious Coconut Milk) and as a topping for oats.  This recipe alone has convinced me to order the book.  Can’t wait to receive my copy!  The next recipe I toyed with was the result of an advertisement for sunflower seed butter that I found in a Clean Eating Magazine for trail mix cookies.IMG_6338
I didn’t have any sunflower seed butter, but I did have a jar of peanut, cashew, dried fruit butter that was begging for some attention!  Here’s a peek at the bowl pre mixing:IMG_6337
I love recipes where you just dump all the ingredients in one bowl and mix!  After some serious stirring to incorporate the ingredients…necessary due to the fact that I do not own a stand mixer….and some careful 2 tbsp-per-cookie-measuring, I had 26 beauties ready for the oven.IMG_6345 These made the house smell fantastic!  We could hardly wait for them to cool down before diving in.IMG_6346 Sarah doesn’t like dried fruit so she’s been missing out on some pretty tasty cookies!  Noah just adores them and they’re good for him, too!IMG_6348 I’ve been eating 2 just about an hour before hitting the gym which has been working out well.  No PB burps like some bars can give.  ;)
Other than baking I’ve been hanging out at the soccer field:IMG_1771 IMG_1662 IMG_1665 IMG_1748
And working on the finishing touches of our rec room renovation.  Here’s a sneak peek of a before and (an almost finished) after: IMG_0457IMG_6204
I’ll be doing a full before and after post just as soon as it’s complete.  We just bought some shelving from IKEA this weekend that will go on either side of the fireplace/TV, there’s some artwork to be hung and I have to pick out some window treatments.  *Almost* there!
Before I sign off, have you checked out Krista’s Kraving’s facebook page yet?  That’s where I post all the new (to me) gluten free eats I’ve been trying, my pantry basics and little tidbits of info here and there.  I also post recipe and review links once a week.  Check it out!!
What have YOU been baking lately??
Bye for now!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Foodless Friday-Camera Randomness

There are 2 places you will find my point and shoot camera; my purse or the dining room table.  Noah knows both these places well.  Every now and again when I download photos to my laptop I find pictures that he's taken without me knowing about it.  Below are what I found on my camera from the past month or so, courtesy of my photographer-in-training.  ;)
 Our new fireplace
 My tomatoes
 I think this is the bridge to the USA
 Sarah enjoying a cake pop at Starbucks
 Looks like a half eaten dinner
 Not really sure what he was doing here...
 Yeah...that's me....close up....
 And Jason, too!
 Flowers at the farm
 More flowers
 Yet more...
Daisy the Boston Terrier
 Coal the Pug
 Turbo the pug/terrier mix
And Sarah, again.  So there you have it.  Sixteen works of art by my nine yr old son!  Have a great weekend!!

Bye for now!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

Hi all!  How’s your day going?  We had a stormy night around here yesterday so I decided to try my hand at some gluten free baking.  The September issue of Chatelaine magazine couldn’t have landed in my mailbox at a better time because for the first time since I’ve been subscribing to this magazine…..and it’s been a few years….it was packed with gluten free recipes!  It also went into detail about which flours are gluten free and how to blend them together to get the best results.  With an abundance of zucchini coming from from garden I decided to try the recipe for “melt in your mouth carrot cupcakes”, but I subbed in zucchini!  IMG_6298 The recipe was followed almost exactly with the exception of a few subs I had to make using what I had in my pantry;
  • used a 1/3 cup of quinoa flour instead of teff flour
  • used 2 tbsp of corn starch in place of tapioca starch
  • used 1 tsp of guar guar in place of xanthan gum
  • and, of course, 1.5 cups of grated zucchini in place of carrots
I won’t lie; I was pretty nervous that these would be a BIG fail!  I’m a spoon licker when I bake and the batter seemed “gritty” to me.  The mixture was also smoother than what I’m used to seeing in a muffin blend.  YIKES!!!IMG_6295
I let them cool for a good half hour before taste testing one.  The verdict?   AWESOME!  Jason and I both agreed that there really wasn’t much difference from a “regular” zucchini muffin that I would bake.  The 2 noticeable differences for me was that with 1 cup of sugar, they were much sweeter than I’m used to and because I used quinoa flour, the smell a bit like, well….quinoa!   IMG_6296 All in all, I’m quite pleased with my first gluten free baking adventure.  This recipe has given me the confidence I need to try another knowing that there’s nothing to fear in using ingredients that are unfamiliar to me!IMG_6298
Tell me; is there an ingredient or style of baking that has had you intimidated to use/try, but once you took the plunge became a fan?
Bye for now!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Factual Friday

Happy Friday!!!  I read a neat little survey that Christina posted on her blog today and thought it would be perfect for a foodless Friday post.  Enjoy!
1. Name 3 things you are looking forward to: *The weekend
*My copy of Peas & Thank You arriving in the mail
*Planning a BBQ with friends
2. If you could have a dream come true, what would it be? *Quit my job, but still get the pay cheque!  LOL
3. You have $200.  You have to spend it on yourself, you can’t donate it, and it can’t be something you actually need.  What will it be? *Some new Lululemon digs….
4. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood? *Spending time with friends
*A good book/magazine
*My cats
5. What is your bedtime routine? *Brush teeth/wash face
*Change into PJ’s
6. If you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your significant other? *Through a mutual friend
7. What kind of books do you read? *I’ll read anything with text on it, but I’m not super fond of heavy romance type novels.  Give me a good murder mystery, with a touch of scandal!
8. How do you see yourself in 10 years?
*In 10yrs my kids will be 22 & 19 so I’ll likely be an empty nester.  Hopefully I’ll be traveling much more (and farther) than I do now, but I’ll probably be too busy worrying about those kids!  ;)
9. What’s your fear? Spiders
10. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to see outer space? *Ahhh…..NO!
11. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? *Stretch
12. If you could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be? *Make him less of a worrier
13. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be? *There was a time where I would’ve had a list of names I preferred over my own, or changed the spelling to Khrysta, (I know, right?) but I’ve come to like my name!
14. If you had to choose between six months of sun or six months of rain, what would you choose? *SUN!  That was a no-brainer……
15. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be? *Pizza, lots of ways.
16. What is the thing you enjoy about blogging the most? *Reading the comments!
17. Do you prefer salty or sweet foods? *Sweet, but I’m starting to like salty more than I use to……
18. What items are in your purse right now?
*Make up “bag”
*2 packs of gum
*soccer team contact list
*sun glasses
19. If you had to choose between vacationing at the beach or in the mountains where would you go? *Beach
20. What do you watch on television that you know you shouldn’t? *Don’t watch much TV.  The kids usually have some kind of crap on, though…..
Before I go, here’s some information about a fun contest that’s being held by Flanigan Farms!!
National Trail Mix Day Photo Contest
In the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often need a quick, energizing snack.  Trail mix makes a great on-the-go snack that is healthy and popular with adults and kids alike.  Flanigan Farms trail mix won’t leave your hands oily, because it’s all natural and unsalted…so you can snack while you...hike, bike, play sports, sail, etc. etc. etc.!

Photo Contest Instructions:
  1. Like Flanigan Farms Facebook Fan Page
  2. Snap away!  Post a photo and short description on Flanigan Farms Facebook Fan Page of an activity outside the home that you engage in where you may benefit from a quick, healthy snack. Be creative! 
- Feel free to include group photos of your friends and family (be sure to tag them in the photo, so we know who’s with you!).
- No limit on the number of submissions…P.S. We like videos too!
  1. Let us know how you heard about the contest.

Prize:  In light of National Trail Mix Day on August 31st, Flanigan Farms is giving away multi-packs of Nuts ‘N’ Things® 1.5oz trail mix.  This is one of its most popular products, and includes only the finest ingredients: Dry Roasted Peanuts, California Raisins, Sunflower Seeds, Cashews, California Almonds, and Pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
1st Place: 72-pack of 1.5oz Nuts ‘N’ Things® trail mix (a $49.68 value)
2nd Place: 36-pack of 1.5oz Nuts ‘N’ Things® trail mix (a $29.88 value)
3rd Place: 12-pack of 1.5oz Nuts ‘N’ Things® trail mix (a $10.56 value)

Deadline: All photo submissions must be posted by Tuesday, August 30
Winners Announced on National Trail Mix Day, Wednesday, August 31st

Sounds like a great contest, no?  I hope you all enjoy a FANTASTIC weekend!  And just for fun, pick one of the 20 questions above and let me know your answer in the comment section!!
Bye for now!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Day of My Eats

Hola!  How’s everyone doing?  I’m back to work this week after a marvellous 2 week vacation and I must admit that getting back into the work groove has been tough!  It’s kinda nice to have a routine back, though.  ;)  The kids are in (day) camp this week and next which they’re enjoying immensely.  I am, too because my house looks the same when I come home as it does when I leave, there’s been no whining about being bored and they’re so tired that getting them to bed at a decent hour is no longer a challenge.  Noah is doing hockey camp and soccer camp; Sarah rock climbing (she LOVES this) and Girls Inc which covers everything from dance, yoga, swimming, basketball, manicures, cup cake decorating, etc.  Fun stuff!
So in light of my test results I thought I’d do a post to show what foods I’ve eaten in the last 24hrs as a means to reduce gluten from my diet.  (I’ve decided, for now, that because gliadin/gluten tested the highest I’d focus on foods containing them first to see how I feel).  Quinoa has always made a regular appearance on my dinner plate and this has not changed.  Last night I made a quick salad with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, edamame, goat milk feta and Mmmm sauce.  We also grilled Thai chicken sausages (organic & hormone free) which we purchased at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto last Thursday.  IMG_6202 Unpictured was a piece of dark chocolate almond bark and one Newman’s Own cinnamon raisin hermit (not gluten free).  Breakfast this morning was 2 slices of Glutino corn bread with fibre….IMG_6206 ….with some whipped cream cheese (so easy to spread) and strawberry jam.IMG_6208 **Side Note: why are the slices of gluten free bread so damn small???**  Mid morning I enjoyed one of my favourite bars…IMG_6210 Lunch was a big bowl of the quinoa salad that was leftover.  I added more Mmmm sauce and some chickpeas to bulk it up:IMG_6213
I also finished off this lonely BBQ’d hotdog!IMG_6211 Hotdogs are one of those food items that I’ve always lurved!  ;)Mid afternoon I noshed on some very ripe pineapple chunks.IMG_6214 The fam had pasta for dinner while I warmed up a leftover jalapeno burger (also form the St. Lawrence Market) and paired it with some brown rice and yellow beets.  The rice is doused in chipotle Tobasco sauce).IMG_6215 For dessert I finished off the last bit of heaven from this pint:IMG_6216
And consumed WAY too many of these dark chocolate kisses:IMG_6209 And there you have it!    Now I’m off to help Sarah pack for a camping trip she’s going on tomorrow and then I need to get lunches ready and watch the tail end of SYTYCD.  What have you been up to today?
Bye for now!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

And The Results Are In…..

This will be more of a “serious” post than what you’re used to reading here at my blog.  If you’ve been following me along for the past 3-ish years, you’ll probably remember me complaining from time to time of feeling “full”, “heavy” or “bloated” after eating certain foods.  Most likely apples, pears, artificial sweeteners or pasta of any kind.  About a year ago I underwent food allergy testing and testing for Celiac Disease, all of which came back negative.  While this was certainly a HUGE relief, it still left me at a loss as to what I was eating to make me feel so uncomfortable (aside from the foods listed above; I’ve been avoiding those for a good year or more).  

A month or so ago I was chatting with a friend at work who had been suffering from the same symptoms as myself.  Through the naturopathic clinic she’s been going to, she learned of a blood test done to test for food sensitivities.    She told me the test could either be done in office or bought and brought home to do.  Needless to say, I was ALL OVER this information!  One phone call and a short drive later, I was in possession of the at home kit.   The test itself was very simple to do; use the lancer provided to prick my finger, fill 5 “circles” on a card with blood making sure to fill each completely, let dry overnight, pack into plastic baggie (also provided) and mail to the lab.  Easy stuff! 

This past week my results were sent back to me.   The “specimen” was tested against the most common types of foods, which are listed by category.    The three columns are listed as LOW, MODERATE and AVOID.  Then the foods are listed by category  This is how it looks:IMG_6198 What you see here is the “dairy” section of my test.  Thankfully none of the foods tested fell into the “AVOID” category, but there were more than what I expected to see under “MODERATE”.  The clinic suggests eliminating the moderate foods for 4-6 months, then slowly introducing them back into my diet determine the foods that my system can’t handle. 
I’ll give you the run down of these foods, listed as highest to lowest in terms of my sensitivities.  Let’s start with the dairy shown above;
-American cheese
-cottage cheese (just slightly over the “limit”)

-egg whites


-sesame seeds


-kidney beans
-green beans
-black olives

-lima bean

-cane sugar
-baker’s yeast
-brewer’s yeast

**I’m good with all fish**
The one single item I tested highest for was gliadin**.  Gliadin proteins comprise one of the two main protein groups in gluten. Therefore, foods that contain gluten, also contain gliadin proteins.
CRAP!  Gluten was the one item I really hoped did NOT show up on the test!  I’ve never been a huge “carb” type of gal, but I didn’t want to have to worry about my favourites….like oats and barley.  But it is what it is and feeling good day in and out is more important to me.  What really bites is that I just stocked up on all my American goodies just over a week ago:IMG_6146 IMG_6143 IMG_6144 IMG_6145 Lots of oats, cereal and honey.  :( 

So what’s the plan?  Ultimately I will be staying away from the recommended foods.   I will not, however, be throwing away what I have in my pantry.  I’ll be giving some to family, and consuming a few of my favourites sporadically until they’re gone.  My (beloved) oats will be replaced with gluten free oats, and I will be upping my quinoa, millet and rice consumption which won’t be difficult at all.   I’m bummed about the fruits and veggies, but most are close to being out of season anyways.  At the end of the day I’m looking forward to feeling 100% consistently.   When I get to that point I’ll know it was all worth it!

Have you heard of or even had this type of testing done?  Any feelings positive or negative surrounding the topic?    I look forward to hearing your thoughts, experiences, suggestions, etc.

Thanks for reading!  I know this post wasn’t typical for me and lengthy to boot, but the blogging community has such a wealth of experiences and information; I just had to share!  :)
Bye for now!!