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Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

WHERE IS GLUTEN HIDING?


Gluten is in many processed foods – soups, tomato paste/sauce, soya sauce, mustards, condiments, spices (especially pepper – maintains dryness), malt vinegar, malt, oats, flaxseed oil, canola oil, baked goods, candies, medicine, vitamins, potato chips, chocolate and so much more. Seed oils and oats may contain gluten as when they are harvested, the whole field is harvested, if there is a stalk of wheat growing, well, it is added in to the mix. Some make-up contains gluten and while we don’t usually “eat” make-up, we do eat lipstick, also, although minimal, creams/powders can enter our system through touching our face and then our mouths.

Even if it is labeled Gluten Free it doesn’t always mean 100% Gluten Free. All governments have a labeling standard with percentage guidelines. This means that if there is some Gluten in a product it may be legally labeled Gluten Free. One key word I always look for on an ingredients list is “Dextrose”. It may be from corn or other vegetable or it may be from wheat. It is not always apparent – so if it says “dextrose”, I don’t buy it.In Canada: “Although Health Canada’s regulatory requirements for “glutenfree” foods do not refer to any specific threshold for gluten in products represented as “glutenfree“, Health Canada considers that levels of gluten protein below 20 ppm generally do not represent health risks to consumers with celiac disease.”

The Canadian government link to labelling food products. If you are from another country, please check your country’s labelling guide.

https://www.inspection.gc.ca/food-label-requirements/labelling/industry/allergens-and-gluten/eng/1388152325341/1388152326591?chap=2

When buying processed GF products, make sure the factory/bakery where the product was made is gluten free or at the very least has a separate section for manufacturing gluten free products.

Dining out is always a challenge due to cross-contamination which is hard because we all like to go out sometimes! Friends, family may invite us to a celebration at a restaurant or at their home – what to do? Personally, I always eat a little before going out. In this way, I am assured some sustenance for the evening and am able to find some vegetable or salad option. There are many restaurants that do advertise gluten free menus and having eaten at several I can honestly say it’s hit and miss. Sometimes I get through the meal without any difficulty, sometimes not. Anything grilled is usually the best choice. Going to a restaurant BEFORE the lunch/dinner rush is highly recommended as they will have more time to focus on NOT cross-contaminating your meal! It is difficult in the dinner rush to maintain a gluten free space to make one meal. When ordering always make it a point to say you are Celiac and very sensitive, this usually puts the kitchen on high alert. Last tip: CALL AHEAD! I do this every time I go to a place I have not been to. Ask the questions – What is on the menu that is gluten free? How is it cooked (with other foods, pre-cooked, marinated)? What is it served with? When is the best time to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination? It is a little embarrassing at first but with time you will think nothing of calling ahead and asking questions. Most places are very helpful – even in other countries!

Many vitamins now are labelled Gluten Free. If not, they probably contain some amount of gluten. Most medications contain gluten and many also contain dairy. Doctors seem to think there is not enough gluten in either the former or the latter to affect you but in my experience, the gluten and dairy present is more than enough to make me quite ill.

Best option when you are Celiac? Cook at home with fresh, natural ingredients, buy organic spices (they tend to be pure and without any additives), cook with dried beans instead of canned (or buy organic – most are labelled gluten free but are expensive), purchase bottled ingredients such as roasted peppers, artichokes, beets, pickles etc. from an ethnic store – I buy from the Greek store here in Calgary. Europe has strict regulations for food growing, preparation and labelling. Always read the ingredients list!

Be wary of health food store items or foods that advertise being healthy, gluten free etc. They are not always as advertised. Just because something is sold at a health food store doesn’t mean it is healthy! If it says Gluten Free there may be a trace of gluten in the product. It is easier, in a way, for me to test products, as I am extremely sensitive and therefore when I see a product I would like, have read the ingredients list and all looks good, I’ll try it. If it makes me sick, (I usually know with the first few bites) I give it away and never buy that product again. For someone who is asymptomatic or not as sensitive it can be very difficult, as any amount of gluten will cause some gut damage to a person with Celiac disease.

Also be wary of beverages – most contain some gluten. Juices, ciders, beer, some sweet wines, vodka (unless you find the pure potato vodka), some tequila, and most other spirits. Read the ingredients list.

Enjoy all the food options you DO have. There are so many fresh foods to savour! Read labels. Try new foods, cooking methods, flavour combinations, restaurants and experiment with your food! This all adds a little fun to the Celiac diet which can seem quite daunting at first.

Some other links for you to read and research:

Celiac Sprue Association

https://www.celiac.ca/living-gluten-free/newly-diagnosed/

Celiac Organization Canada

https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/gluten-free-foods/

 

Kali Orexi!   Bon Apetit!   Savour the Flavour!

 

 

Healthy Simple Lunch!


Lunch.JPG

Melitsanosalata, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Eggs, Roasted Peppers, Non-Dairy Cheese – Monterey Jack Flavour

Delicious, healthy lunch! Segragate in containers and take to work.

Melitsanosalata Recipe:

Roast an Eggplant by cutting in half lengthwise, placing cut side down on a cookie sheet or other flat pan, drizzle olive oil on top – enough to cover the top and have some dripping down the side. The amount of olive oil depends on the size of the eggplant. Spread the eggplant around as the cut side also needs olive oil. Shouldn’t be much left in the pan. Roast on middle rack in 350° oven until done. Should be easy to press down. Usually 30 – 45 minutes, depending on size of eggplant. Remove from oven, let cool. Don’t touch! Once cooled, remove skin by leaving the eggplant in the pan and peeling the skin off – carefully.

Place in bowl. With a sharp knife, cut lengthwise strips and then cut cross-wise. Using a fork with the knife, keep cutting cross-wise until eggplant is chopped up. (5 min.).

Add approximately 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. Tahini, 1 tbsp. or more, olive oil, 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice. Amounts depend on the flavour you would like to achieve and the size of the eggplant. Mix up well.

Add finely chopped – garlic, green onions, and parsley. Mix well and serve!

If you like, add roasted red peppers and/or tomatoes. In place of parsley add basil or cilantro.

Either salad can be made any way that suits you!

Heirloom Tomato Salad:

Tomatoes cut up how you like them
1/2 Ripe avocado cut up
Kalamata Olives – optional
Green onions diced small or red onion
Cilantro chopped up
1 small garlic clove finely chopped
Artichoke Hearts in a jar – chopped into small bite size pieces
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Add cucumber, celery, basil, parsley, peppers, whatever your taste buds would like!

No salt necessary as the olives contain salt. Onions provide a bite and with the garlic an umami flavour!

Yes, there is garlic in both salads but there is also parsley and lemon juice and the acidity from the tomato. Don’t worry. If taking to work, you may have to rinse your mouth or drink mint tea.

Boil an egg – water in a pot, add egg, bring to boil for approximately 4 minutes and then turn off. Do not remove pot. Leave on stove for at least 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Remove the shell. Cut into four and sprinkle with black pepper and paprika. For lunches, I boil several eggs and keep the unused ones in the fridge with the shell on – no cracks! I remove the shell before going to work as removing the shell releases an odour that you don’t want in your office. If you are eating outside or in a airy lunch room, go ahead and peel the egg at the office.

Roasted red peppers – Confession … I now buy a jar (from Greece) at the Greek Store (Kalamata Grocery). I used to make roasted peppers all the time but it does take a lot of time.

Daiya Monterrey Jack Cheese is pretty good as a side cheese for lunch or a quick snack.

More lunch ideas coming up soon!

WILD SOCKEYE SALMON WITH MANGO SALSA!


salmonmangosalsa

An old friend came to visit and requested the salmon I made 10 years ago … Ummm … which one??? I have made so many different salmon meals – different ingredients, different cooking methods and … I create the dish according to time and ingredient availability, weather, palate desires – in other words … what we feel like eating (light, comfort, spicy, etc) and what I am able to put together with the ingredients I have and the time available! So … “we were having Margaritas and you cooked it on the grill” really doesn’t give me much to go on.

Time for a new invention. I had purchased a box of Ataulfo Mangos that were ripening fast, ergo must include them in this meal.

The mango salsa was done and then we went out hiking. By the time we returned home we were starving and time was off the essence. As you can see there isn’t much food left in the plate in the above photo … It smelled and tasted soooooo YUMMY that we had wolfed down half our food before I remembered to take a photo!

Creative juices flowing here is what I created!

Mango Salsa (I used 8 Mangos)

Cube 8 Mangos
6 large cloves of Garlic – finely chopped
2 Tbsp. of Capers OR (use fresh Blueberries or Raspberries)
5 Green Onions (Spring Onions) – chopped fine
5 Tbsp. Roasted Red Pepper – chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Cilantro 
– added when served (optional) or Basil!

Cilantro may be added to the salsa before serving – chop some in a small bowl and serve on the side or sprinkle on top. Don’t add it into this mix as it will wilt in a day and change the flavour of the salsa.

Add all ingredients (except Cilantro) in a large bowl and mix them together well. Cover and set aside. May be refrigerated in a sealed container (NOT PLASTIC) for up to 5 days. Sometimes 6 … 🙂

Wild Sockeye Salmon (1 Large Filet)

In a small bowl combine the following ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder (or use Fresh Garlic)
1 1/2 Tsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil

Blend well. Once it is blended add while stirring:

1 Tbsp. Tamari (or Japanese style Soya Sauce)
1 1/2 Ounces/ 5 ml of Orange Juice

Blend very well.

Chop up as much fresh Ginger as you like.

Wash Salmon. Pour a little olive oil in a baking dish. Place Salmon skin side down and completely cover with above mixture. Sprinkle fresh, chopped Ginger on top.

Cook for approximately 15 minutes at 350°- depends on the size of the Salmon filet and the type of oven you have. The Salmon juice in the pan should be bubbling, clear and a little brown. If you have a thin filet you may broil it – two notches below the broiler otherwise the sauce will burn! Or you may place it on a grill sheet/pan/aluminium foil on the barbecue at 400° for about 15 minutes.

Super Foods My Patootie!!!


Any time you connect to media – Any social media, radio, TV, the spam in your junk file – you are inundated with the wonders and cures of a “SUPER FOOD”! The ad (because that is what it is folks), goes on to list the numerous cures of this miracle Super food and cites studies, which are rarely specifically named, on how this food may cure cancer, diabetes or any number of diseases. Read … May …

Blueberries, ginger, turmeric, anti-oxidants, lemons, honey, cinnamon, gogi berries … the list goes on, ad nauseum and changes constantly. There is always a new super food that will cure everything, make you happy, make you look younger, cure a disease, help you lose weight and now the miracle ingredient is available in this powder form for your convenience! WooHoo … not.

THIS IS A super food: you planted it, tended to it, picked it when ripe and ate it fresh, that day. Now THAT is super! And it’s a food! Since most of us do not have the opportunity to have our own, diverse garden (read: veggies, fruit trees, berry bushes, etc.) and even for those that do, it is generally not year round, nor is it as diverse as we would like, we become denizens of our local grocery store and must forage through what is available and we wonder if we are making the right choices.

I am so sick and tired of reading all this bullshit on all media about this cure or that cure or how to lose weight if you buy this product or what you should never do/eat and … rants about Big Pharma … we need to remember that the natural health industry is also a billion dollar industry. People are in it to make money. In the case of “Big Pharma”, once you begin on a course of medication one pill leads to another and pretty soon you are not sure what you are taking and must consult a pharmacist to show you which pill to take when and with what and whether they are all working together for the good of your body. As for the health industry they are offering this cure for that disease, that cure for this disease, pills, cleanses, teas and the list goes on for a vast array of cure alls and weight loss products which without a complete lifestyle change – ie. exercise, diet, outlook on life, don’t deliver and are seldom beneficial for anything except making money for the seller.

Do I believe in healthy diets, mind, body, soul/spirit healing … YES! Do I believe holistic medicine is a great preventative tool? YES! Do I believe following a healthy diet can effect a cure for an already established disease. unfortunately, No. I DO believe following a healthy diet, resting, exercising, having fun/laughing/loving can lessen the symptoms of a disease, help get you back to being healthy faster and perhaps keep you off of or decrease the amount of your medications. For those that have a genetic predisposition to a disease, I believe being proactive by having good living habits will help keep the disease at bay or at least mitigate the severity.

DNA, genetics accounts for a lot of unexpected diseases. These can be mitigated with a healthy body, mind and spirit but not necessarily eradicated. Why bother then? Because your chances of survival are increased. Your time spent being ill is decreased. Better quality of life … if you like to be ambulatory and free of pain …

Fresh, whole foods do provide the nutrients your body requires and is built to use. Our body is an amazing machine which given the chance, regulates itself, detoxifies itself, pH balances itself and so much more. Yep. All it requires is the proper fuel; movement; rest; love and laughter. Your body is a part of a complex system encompassing your emotions and thought processes.

A healthy lifestyle, incorporating the mind, body and soul can keep you healthy and can minimize risk. If you are healthy in ALL three areas you have a better chance of fighting the disease and recognizing that something is wrong with your body, perhaps getting early treatment …

There is no magic pill. There is no surefire, instantaneous, miracle cure.

No one is here to solve YOUR health problems with a magic pill or potion! THAT is entirely up to you, to do the best you can with what you have. Research facts, read studies, stay away from marketing promises, commit to a lifestyle change and begin slowly. Small steps in the beginning lead to bigger strides once you develop your pace. Our health is our responsibility.

What there is the age old, simple advice … sleep, eat real foods, meditate/de-stress/relax, drink lots of pure water, socialize with friends and loved ones – be a part of a social network and get some exercise.

Mix it up. A little of this, a little of that … everything in moderation.

 

 

Split Pea Soup on a Cold Winter Day – Easy and Filling


First winter back in the frozen north … and they told me it doesn’t snow here, where I chose to live … uh huh … warmest area in Canada …  oh sure … There are icicles on my car!
And so … the fireplace is on and I have 2 smoked pork hocks simmering on the stove. Smells like bacon cooking. I don’t know about you but I LOVE the smell of bacon and really LOVE eating it too! My comfort food – well, one of them. The love for bacon is so intense that I must limit myself to devouring a pound of bacon (yep, in one sitting), to a maximum of 4 times per year. Who can have just 3 slices? Not me!

Back to the pork hocks (bone in) … They are simmering with about a tablespoon of black peppercorns and six small bay leaves in 16 cups of water. If you’re making a pot of something, make a big pot! Whether it’s soup or stew or sauce, it doesn’t take up much more time and it freezes well for a quick dinner or lunch. Mine go into 4 cup, sealable, glass jars and are stacked in the freezer.
My apologies. Another digression … bear with me, please. Back to the soup.

My mom used to make the tastiest pea soup and she gave me the recipe. The miracle is that I managed to find it amongst all the papers in my storage locker! Here it is.

Mom’s recipe:
8 cups of water
2 bay leaves
6 – 8 peppercorns
1 lb. washed, split, dry green peas
1 large carrot – chopped
1 medium onion – diced
1 stalk of celery – diced
salt to taste
1 ham bone with some meat on it.
Toss all into a pot and simmer for 8 to 10 hours. Remove ham bone, take off meat and add back to soup. Remove bay leaves.

Really? That’s it? Doesn’t sound like much … definitely wouldn’t be enough to freeze … Hmmm …

And so … after a slight tweak … my recipe for a really big pot of soup:

1.7 Kilos (about 4 lbs of smoke pork hock)
6 smallish bay leaves
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
16 cups of purified water (Hate the chlorine taste in my soup. Yes, you can taste the difference!)
Simmer (on low heat – #3 on the dial) for 4 hours.
Let cool. Place in refrigerator. I don’t have the time to make this in one day. 🙂
Next day, remove pork hocks, skim off fat, fish for all the peppercorns and bay leaves or if you have another really big pot, use a sieve and pour the liquid/stock through. Separate the meat from the fat and bone. Dice up the tender morsels (must taste to be assured of the flavour). Add to stock.
6 – 8 carrots – depending on how much carrot you enjoy, keeping in mind this will make about 16 bowls of       soup.
3 – 4 stalks of celery (same tip as the carrots)
1 1/2 large onion
8 cloves of garlic
3 lbs of dried, split peas (washed up)
Chop up the veggies to the size you like. Add all the remaining ingredients into the stock. If the water has evaporated too much, add more (purified).
Do Not add any salt as the smoked pork hocks are salty enough. If you can’t find smoked hocks use a ham bone from the butcher.
Allow to boil and then lower to a simmer for about 1 hour or more, until the peas are mushy.

Make a nice salad. Some gluten free garlic bread. Enjoy!

Cool to slightly warm before placing in jars for the freezer. If you freeze this soup in smaller containers, it makes a delicious, warming, light and filling lunch to take to work!

After the holidays eating light and healthy is a relief for your digestive system and will help you to lose those holiday pounds! Soup and salad is heartwarming, tasty and filling, while being light and easy to digest. Just choose your salad dressing carefully! 🙂

Best Turkey Burgers Ever!


Delicious! Child Friendly

Versatile & Yummy!

Turkey burgers are so versatile. The flavour, depending on the herbs/spices used, can be akin to a christmas turkey (sage, gravy topping), or a tropical treat (coriander, pineapple/pepper salsa) and everything in between. Burgers can be cooked and frozen for future quick meals, packed for lunches, made as a “meatloaf”, after work-out snack (provides a blast of protein), and of course, made into a delicious burger with your choice of trimmings!

The Basics:

2 lbs (1 kilo) of Ground Turkey (I prefer turkey breast. Either white or dark turkey meat can be used)
4 Fresh Carrots – grated – not too fine.
1 Large Red Pepper – diced (small)
3 – 4 Sticks of Celery – diced (small)
1 Large Onion (yellow, white, red … your preference) – diced (small)
4 – 8 Cloves of Garlic – minced. (Amount depends on size of cloves & how much garlic flavour you enjoy).
3 Large Eggs – beaten
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Mayo (Make your own or add your favourite)
*1 Cup Quinoa Flakes
*1/4 Cup Coconut Flour – if necessary, add a little more when mixing.
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil
1 Tbsp. Paprika
Optional:
1 Cup Cooked, Diced Bacon – Not Crispy or it won’t dice properly

Those are the basic ingredients.

*If you cannot find Quinoa Flakes or Coconut Flour, use TOASTED gluten-free bread. Not toasted, the bread becomes soggy and melts into the mixture, not providing any firmness. Coconut Flour absorbs a lot of the moisture before and during cooking. Be careful how much extra you add.

In the past I have experimented with Corn Meal, Mashed Potato, Quinoa (cooked), Rice (cooked, different varieties), Gluten-free Bread (toasted) and various gluten-free flour mixes. None provided the texture and firmness I was looking for, although mashed potatoes and the bread came close! Experiment and let us know what you come up with!

Once, while in a rush, I placed all the veggies in a food processor – the result – soggy burgers that fell apart … never doing that again!

Suggestions for 3 different Flavours: BBQ, Roast Turkey, Tropical

BBQ:

Add:
1/2 to 1 Tsp. of Cumin
1 Tsp. to 2 Tsp. Chili Flakes or dried Chilies (Poblano, Ancho, Chipotle) – depending on the heat of the chilies used and how hot you like it.
Although I love the heat of chilies, too much can reduce the flavour components of the whole meal, i.e. … your mouth is on fire and you can’t really taste anything!
1 Tbsp. Honey or Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. Gluten Free Tamari/Soya Sauce/Bragg’s Liquid
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. of your favourite Gluten Free Mustard

If you do not have the honey, tamari, tomato paste or mustard, add 2 – 3 Tbsp. of your favourite BBQ sauce.

Sage Burgers:

Add:
2 Tbsp. Dried Sage
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – minced
2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Cumin

For added colour and flavour, toss in a handful of dried cranberries!

Tropical Patties:

Add:
2 Tsp. Coriander
1/4 Tsp. Curry
1/2 Tsp. Dried Hot Pepper
1 Tbsp. Dried Coconut
2 Tbsp. (or more … up to you) Grated Sweet Potato
1/4 Cup Finely Diced Pineapple

Method:

Place Turkey in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle herbs/spices on top. Add beaten eggs. Add the binder (quinoa/coconut flour, etc.). Lastly, add the diced/minced veggies. Mix well. Form into patties. Place on greased (coconut oil) cookie sheet. They can be placed quite close together as they do shrink a little. Cook in a 350℉ oven on the middle rack. Depending on the thickness of the patties, cook for about 30 minutes. The Turkey burgers do not gain much colour when cooked – a little golden and that’s all.

Yield: 10 Large Patties

Two of us finished these in 24 hours! They are delicious and so easy to snack on – directly from the refrigerator – just one more bite … and soon another patty was devoured. Doubling the recipe provides extras for freezing or lunches. The patties keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days (If they last that long!) For freezing, layer each patty with wax paper and freeze in a sealed bag. Only freeze as many together that you will need for a meal.
Pressed for time? Make this into a meatloaf – grease a meatloaf pan and firmly pat the mixture in.

Gravy, Mango/Pineapple Salsa, Cranberry Sauce, Fig Compote … any of these may be served with these burgers.
Sweet Potatoes/Yams are a favourite side dish. Wash well, slice into 1/2 inch/1.5 cm, lay on a cookie sheet, pour extra virgin olive oil, orange/pineapple juice, GF tamari over top – just enough of each to “wet” the slices. Sprinkle paprika over each slice. A dash of cinnamon on each slice works well for the children. If you love garlic, as I do, add some peeled cloves in the pan – yum!

ENJOY!

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