Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipe Share ...

I really want to start using our slow cooker more ... we have a busy family of three, all working full time and sometimes going in different directions in the evenings ~ as it is I find it a chore some days to think of what to make for supper, as when you get home it is already late.  Only so many times a month you can throw meatloaf on or make chili ... today it was so nice to put a roast into the slow cooker, that had been marinating last night - cover it with just carrots (because I forgot to do potatoes - but that will take a half an hour when I get home) set it and go to work.  Knowing I will have the main part of our meal waiting cooked when we get home. 

To use my slow cooker more I know I need to get a bit more organized ... which is one of my goals this year - for meal times.  I know the reward will be a bit more variety in our suppers, as well as a time saver and less stress when it comes to the nightly "what should we make for supper?".

I came across an awesome helpful site today that I need to share - I know I also want to bookmark this site well for myself as I know I will be referring back to it often. 

Divine Health - from the Inside and Out - Lydia did an amazing post up entitled "80 Gluten Free Slow Cooker Recipes"  - Thank you Lydia. 

I just wanted to share this site - share the wealth of knowledge we do have ...
And I hope to get to some more gluten free slow cooking incorporated into our weekly meals!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Edmonton Gluten Free Brunch

One meal I absolutely love is BRUNCH ... it may be just because the only time we have brunch or go out for brunch is on weekends or holiday times, so more relaxed not working days.  In any case I love brunch - at home or out ...and in learning to live with Celiac Disease I did not want to give up my love of eating out.  I am thankful I live in an awesome city that many restaurants have taken the requirement of gluten free eating and have done an awesome job in understanding what we require for safe and healthy eating.

I also want to stress that I call these restaurants before hand and talk to usually more than one person to check on the level of knowledge of required (health) gluten free eating - and the cross contamination aspects.  It does not have to be a long drawn out conversation - usually you are put through to someone who is a supervisor of such things and it just takes a few minutes to touch base.  We have gone to a few of these places with a group of 20-25 people - so it is important to me beforehand to do a bit of research and knowledge seeking so that neither my guy or I feel awkward or embarrassed eating out with others.  And when I am at a restaurant I always introduce our requirement by saying "I have celiac disease, so we require safe gluten free meals - can this be accommodated?"  With all the fad diets out there, and people jumping on the gluten free bandwagon because they have been told by some celebrity it will help them lose weight or feel healthier, those in the celiac and gluten intolerant communities need to separate our requirement from these.  I find a few minutes and talking to the right person can lessen the stress and miscommunication, a much better dining experience for both us as the consumer but also for the establishment because we are clear and straightforward with them.

Brings me back to my favourite meal - Brunch - and what options I have tried in and around our city.  I was going to do a separate blog post for each of these Restaurants but seriously my goal is to blog more and more often - so I am actually going to do a little blurb about 7 places we have tried in the last 6 months or so ... to give you a bit of a taste of what is available.  No particular order ...

La Ronde Restaurant - Edmonton's only Revolving Rooftop Restaurant - Chateau Lacombe

 The La Ronde is seriously a treat ... it is an unique experience in that this restaurant is at the top of the Chateau Lacombe and it slowly revolves ... you get an amazing and fantastic view of Edmonton, downtown and as you see in this picture quite a ways away.  I think I will need to go to brunch in the fall again I would love to see the river valley from up there in all it's splendor and color.  As it is a unique experience the brunch is a bit pricey but as you can see from my plate - you do not go hungry.  As usual I did phone ahead and speak to them about brunch - as they serve this buffet style - so honestly there is always a risk that someone may cross contaminate something by using the wrong tongs for a dish.  They do have a chef at the end of the table carving meat and a chef manager at the tables to watch over things - and a lot of the foods are in sections - all salads together, cold items like seafoods and veggies in an area ect.  We were able to get the chef manager go through the dishes with us to give us her extra check on items that we were clear to eat.  And which ones besides the obvious toast and pancakes, we were to steer clear from. 

Johnson's Cafe - Hotel Selkirk - Fort Edmonton Park

They hold brunch at the Selkirk Hotel in a big cafeteria style room - no frills - long wooden tables and chairs - but the food was fabulous.  As was the service.  I did my phone ahead (you usually are wise to book one of the brunch times as it is - they are pretty busy and only have two sit down brunch times each Sunday) - they suggest you do so they can let the chef know that they will have a gluten free dinner attending brunch - menus are set up a bit before time so they can either tweak it a bit to accommodate a gluten free diner - or tell you what kinds of options you likely will have.  When it came time for brunch we went just before the line up and spoke to the supervisor - she lead us through the buffet style set up and showed us exactly what was safe and made gluten free - which honestly was a good 75% of their items.   We also took advantage of the little omelet station that was set up on the side and got a small order to suit your taste omelet that the chef was fixing up.  The food was great and we did not leave hungry - and the brunch was reasonably priced and in addition you get into the Fort Edmonton Grounds for the one price - which is a great deal.  We had a great brunch and got to spend the afternoon at Fort Edmonton for one reasonable price.  

Culina Millcreek 
We have been to the Culina Millcreek location a few times for brunch ... the size of the portions are great, and they are familiar with gluten free eating and cross contamination ... we have tried a couple of the dishes ... consisting of eggs, meat and veggies as shown ... they also have their own gluten free bread that is pretty tasty.  We have booked our brunch dates on Open table, but I have also called in a head of time to convey our gluten free eating requirements.  Always have dealt with knowledgeable and helpful staff who assure us they can accommodate most items on the brunch menu.  Reservations are recommended as it is a cozy sized venue and they can be busy during brunch times.   

Cocoa's Restaurant and Lounge - Downtown Delta Suite

Cocoa's was another brunch location we visited with a group, that serves brunch in a buffet style setting - I did call ahead - especially as we were attending brunch with a group of people, and was assured at that time that they would be able to accommodate gluten free eating - that we could order off their menu if we found the buffet did not suffice.  However - things were a bit different once we arrived, a bit of patience was required as our server knew nothing of my phone call - even though I was told it was written down, so she told us we would have to speak to the floor manager ~ who was busy so it took some time before we could explain again our requirements and then she went through the buffet with us, she suggested at that time that we only take from certain areas - she was worried about the cross contamination - so we could help ourselves to the fruit and seafood sections as they were set off by themselves, and then she asked us what we would like and we ordered new plates that were made up for us from the kitchen.  Eggs, bacon and potatoes - it wasn't anything special but the food was hot and safe, and I admit I think I went a couple times to the seafood table anyway.   

Lazia Restaurant

We went to brunch at Lazia for Kevin's birthday - so this was somewhere new for brunch, though we had been to Lazia before for supper a few times with no issue.  I did call beforehand and was assured we would have no problem, once there we had to educate our wait staff a bit but once we put emphasis on the requirement that the dishes be gluten free - we kept to ordering simple.  The roasted potatoes were very tasty and the seafood omelet that I ordered was fine.  Kevin has simple sunny side up eggs and ham - the portions were average, not as filling with no options for toast.   Perfect if you are just looking to grab a light brunch. 

La Crema Caffe - St. Albert
Another great place to go if you are looking for a light brunch alternative is the La Crema Caffe in St. Albert - they make their own little gluten free quiche and sausage rolls, and have awesome choices like breakfast bagels.  They have their own designated cooler cabinet filled with all sorts of yummy gluten free delights ... from muffins to squares ... if you would like a bite to go with your flavoured coffee or tea.   Their melt in your mouth tasty quiche always brings me back to have a light lunch or brunch here, it is a bit pricey - but the products are made gluten free and the service is always friendly.  A great place to head in for a light lunch or a coffee with a friend.  

La Boheme - In the Historic Highlands District
La Boheme is set in the historic Highlands district ... after we had brunch we took a walk through the residential area around the restaurant and marveled at the beautiful homes built here ... from the early 1900's.  The restaurant itself is in a historic site - the Gibbard Block that was built in 1912 ... for brunch ... we picked a couple items off the menu that once we spoke to our waitress we assured could be made gluten free ...

Kevin had the Boeuf et Oeuf - steak with peppercorn sauce and eggs dish, and mine was a seafood dish - Saumon - Le Vol au Vent - minus the puff pastry - salmon, asparagus, and mushrooms in a bechamel sauce- both had fresh potato chips that were delicious.  There also was a pasty (not gluten free), cheese and fruit cart that we were able to start with some fresh fruit before our entrees arrived.

So we have enjoyed a gluten free meal at all these different brunch establishments in and around Edmonton ... as always you should always call ahead of your meal and touch base with the management ahead of your reserved brunch time, especially if you are attending brunch with a group of people.  A little heads up makes a more pleasant dining experience for yourself and for the wait staff.

I would love for others to share some great brunch places that they have also found in and around the City ... So where have you had brunch lately that deserves a gluten free thumbs up shout out?!!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Few Thoughts ...

Last year brought a lot of change to our lives ... some sad and tragic and some amazing and wonderful - a roller coaster year that by the end of it I was exhausted mentally and struggling physically.  I put my efforts in staying sane (ha some would say I did not quite meet that goal ;) and to calm the stormy waters so that I could tread water and see in which direction I needed to go ...
I dove deeper into my creative side - which I had kind of put mostly on a shelf and looked at the 2014 year of one of rebuilding, learning, and change - and this year we have started a bit rough, in sad news about more family but I am hoping on an overall picture a year of more positive change. 

This year I decided - through my creative side - to join the community that choose a WORD for the year - this is something that is trending under the "One Little Word" title  - and it took me a good long while to really choose a word that I could work with, work for, and use with my need to have a rebuilding year - I chose ACTION.  I am an avid reader and researcher - nothing more I like to do than if I hear of something I am not familiar with, or learning a concept, technique, style or thought I am unfamiliar with to go and look for more information.  I have found the internet to really be such a vast source of amazing information, and I appreciate this tool we have today to be able to sit and at any time that is convenient for US to expand our knowledge ... it is just amazing.

It also can be a bit overwhelming ... I found in some cases in my life it caused me to reach and try to grab a hold of too many thoughts, ideas and opinions - to the point where it became hard to distinguish what I wanted to focus on in life - especially when we had some personal family tragedies that changed the way I look at life now ... period.  I wanted to do so much ... wanted to aspire to be like others that I admire so much ~ and felt frustration with my life, with my days, with who I was.  It was time to step back and take a chill pill ... seriously ... and stop aspiring to BE like others - and start really taking a look at myself ... and putting all the reading and thinking to use in getting where I could "START" - just need a start line - in living more as ME.  :)

I needed to think about my word, who I am at this point - what some of my goals were ... and I realized that it is certainly the perfect word for me this year -
"ACTION".  To take a lot of what I have learned, experienced, and items I have made tonnes of lists on - to do something with all that.  I needed ACTION behind the thought.

One of the "headings" on my list (because I always start with a list no matter what I do) under my word ACTION - is Blogging.  I realized in my time of becoming so overwhelmed with "life" I stopped connecting and blogging in the way I wanted and needed to.  I would come to my Gluten Free Blog and freeze ... the words were not there, I had nothing to say, so I would say nothing.  That did not stop me from living, going to restaurants, trying new products, having experiences every day as a woman living with Celiac Disease in this world today - I just lost my words because I had overwhelmed myself with what "I thought I should be" instead of who and what I want to be.  

I realize part of my issue was thinking I had to come in here and write up a magazine style review of everything I experience in my everyday life.  It makes me shake my head that it took complete exhaustion of life to make me see I just needed to simplify things and be me - with what I have to share and be content with sharing more than sharing MUCH.  

A big part of my 2014 goal and in using the word ACTION and applying it - is just blogging MORE, not feeling that it has to be perfect or lengthy, just share tidbits that I have seen or experienced.  There are many bloggers out there that are amazing and have so much more detailed content and I honestly follow them all the time ... I am not them and I encourage everyone to use many sources when looking up gluten free advice, tidbits, recipes, restaurant and shopping reviews, and heartfelt discussions on living Gluten Free and how to do it.  I have provided some great links to some of these sites on the side of my page ... go and look ... follow and read.  So much talent and heartfelt caring out there in our Gluten Free world.

Me ... I am just going to share a little glimpse into my world and what I am and have experienced and I hope I am a little part of what you may find helpful in your day to day life living gluten free and learning to LOVE it.

Sherri  :)