Menu Planning ,Food Journals and the Canada Food Guide

Along with preparing yummy gluten and dairy free things for my Dee’Lectables business, I have day job.

From Monday to Friday, I  shop for and prepare two healthy snacks and a wholesome nutritious lunch daily for 7 adults and 30-40 little ones.  I’m the cook for a licensed daycare centre.
At the daycare we have two menus;
A two week rotating Warm Weather Menu from end of May- Sept. 30th
and
A  three week rotating Cool Weather Menu for the rest of the year.

The menus were in place when I arrived.

Now that it’s almost time to switch over to the cool weather menu again, I have decided it’s time to mix things up and build a new and improved menu for the centre. Now, because we are a licensed facility, we have rules and guidelines we have to follow for everything, and the menu is not overlooked. So, to the Canada Food Guide I went to find what is recommended for my little charges.

2-5 year-olds need:

4-5 servings of Fruit & Veggies
3-4 servings of Grains
2 servings of Milk and Alternatives
1 serving of Meat and Alternatives

This got me thinking about my own daily food intake. I mean, I think I eat well.
I eat plenty of fruits and veggies and lean meats. I try to stay away from junk food, although I have my vices too. Since going gluten and dairy free, I have been more focused on what my body doesn’t need.That said, it’s been a while since I thought about what my body does need.

Canada’s Food Guide says 19-50 year old females (that’s me!) need:

7-8 servings of Fruit & Veggies
6-7 servings of Grain
2 servings of Milk and Alternatives
2 servings of Meat and Alternatives

Most of us are pretty good at keeping track of what we put in our mouths. For example, I know I had a banana and a large  rice and coconut milk cappuccino for breakfast this morning.  Because of my food issues, I’m really good at keeping track of what I put in my mouth but this time I’m more curious about how much. So,  I’ve decided to keep a Food Journal for a few days.

Day One (That’s today!)

So far I’ve had:

Breakfast
1 med banana
1 extra large cappuccino with 1/2 cup of steamed coconut/rice milk blend

Snack
1/2 cup mixed greens
1/2 c mixed tomatoes, cucumbers & chickpeas,
topped with 1 tsp olive oil and pinch of salt

Lunch
2 cups of chicken &  sausage jambalaya
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 dates
1/2 cup fortified rice milk
1/2 cup fortified almond milk

Fruit & Veg: 3 1/4
Grains: 2
Milk and Alternatives: 1 1/2
Meat and Alternatives: 1 1/2

How do your eating habits measure up?


Check out Canada’s Food Guide to see what you should be eating.

Now, what I am I gonna have for dinner?

….Dee

Dining Out…

For those of you living with food allergies / intolerance, dining out can be an awkward, frustrating and even scary experience. It’s bad enough when you have one food issue but when you have two, like me. It seems our menu choices can be slim to none, often resulting in not dining out at all for fear of being “accidentally dosed”. Whether  you are trying to avoid gluten and dairy or soy and or nuts, it seems like the things that make us sick are in everything we eat these days. ( That statement feels like a topic for another post!)

But with the increased awareness of food allergies and intolerancee, many restaurants are getting wise.

I have found that if the establishment has a full kitchen then my options open up , because there is a professional cook on site that I can communicate my needs to. It makes a little thing like dining out possible for me again.

Like last night.

Kudos to the Red Lobster in Oshawa (311 King St W Oshawa, ON L1J 2J8
(905) 434-1143) and the amazing staff there!

I went with my family to celebrate a friend’s birthday and our wait staff and the manager bent over backwards to accommodate my food issues. The staff were sympathetic to my needs and treated my request with respect. The manager came to our table personally  to explain what could be done to ensure my meal would be safe for me. Then they prepared my food with separate utensils to avoid cross contamination.

BTW- I had broiled sole, garlic shrimp, rice and broccoli and it was delish!

Best of all, today I don’t feel like I “got dosed”!

Thank you so very much!!!

Snickerdoodle Topped Bourbon Peach Cobbler

I didn’t think I’d do this…. I’m not one to start something and not see it through whatever “it” may be, especially when I enjoy the “thing”.

If anyone is out there actually reading this, you must be thinkin'”What the heck is this chick ranting about??

In this  case, I’m writing about “blog silence”. At least I think that’s what you call it when someone starts a blog, posting at fairly regular intervals, then stops posting, without explanation. I actually feel disappointed when my favourite bloggers do this so, when I started my own blog…I didn’t think I would become guilty of becoming  silent.

It all started with a wicked cold that I came down with. It knocked the #$%@ out of me and lingered for weeks. I thought I had pneumonia.
Then, as usual, my sinuses started giving me trouble. It took several prescriptions before I started to feel myself again, although the polyps have returned. Now it looks like I may be surgery bound again to remove them.

Arghhhh!

Sometimes I wonder if the gf/df diet is worth it. I mean, it’s a lot of work  being aware of what I put in my mouth.  I do it because it’s supposed to help keep my sinus polyps from growing back . But  it doesn’t stop them, it just slows them down a bit, so start to I wonder, if it’s worth it. Then I go and do something silly like eat a cheeseburger. Then I feel guilty. Then I beat myself up for being a hypocrite because how can I for go on about  eating well if I cave and eat something as bad for me as a cheeseburger?  Then I question my ethics and on and on.

I finally came to my senses during a conversation with a friend who was trying to quit smoking. I used to smoke a pack and a half a day  before I finally quit, nine years ago. I was reminded that it took several tries before I finally quit. I was also reminded that even after “quitting” a bad habit, it’s ok to slip up occasionally.

We all make mistakes.  I’m glad to be back and I want to hear from anyone that may be reading this and has gone through a similar situation.

I also have so many ideas for recipes that I want to share. My local Farmer’s Markets have been brimming with an amazing assortment of delectables to be inspired by. Now that August has arrived, three of my favourite foods are in season: corn, blueberries and peaches.

Today’s recipe was inspired by a recipe I found at Baked By Rachel for Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

Snickerdoodles are one of my all time favourite cookies.  Not only is the name fun to say, but I get a bizarre satisfaction out of the fact that my spell checker really thinks I’ve spelled it wrong. : ) The idea of using them as the topping for apple cobbler is brilliant.  But it’s not quite apple season. It’s peach season and I can’t think of a better way to up the yum factor of a peach cobbler, than to borrow Rachel’s idea.
If you find yourself near a farmer’s market or a farm stand where peaches are sold, stop and pick up a bunch, this is one of the best things you can do to a peach.

Enjoy!

Dee
For the snickerdoodles, I use my go -to snickerdoodle recipe, inspired by a recipe from Cybele Pascal’s book “The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook”.

Snickerdoodle Topped Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Snickerdoodle Topped Bourbon Peach Cobbler

For the Snickerdoodles Topping:

2 1/2 cups  gluten free all purpose mix #1
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dairy free all vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup rice milk

2 tbsp garnulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon

For the Peach Ingredients:

6 large peaches, cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon  bourbon
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss peaches with sugar, bourbon, and cornstarch in a 2-qt. nonreactive
baking dish and bake in middle of oven 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 375F

Whisk together flour mix, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

In separate bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the shortening, the first measure of granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Mix with a whisk or on medium speed until fluffy.

Add vanilla and egg. Mix well for approx 20 seconds.

Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the rice milk.

Roll the dough into 24 heaping tablespoon size balls, or use a one ounce measuring scoop.

Roll dough in cinnamon sugar and place  biscuits side by side, covering the peach mixture.

Place remaining dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets, 3 inches apart.

Bake cobbler in bottom third of oven for 25-30 minutes.

Bake extra snickerdoodles in top third of oven  for 10-13 minutes.
Allow to cool on sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to rack.

NOTE** If  you’re like me and love the flavour of real vanilla bean, you may have an empty pod kickin’ around your kitchen.  I tend to put empty vanilla pods in jars of sugar, then pull them out to add to stewed fruit.
Adding an empty vanilla bean to the peach mixture is magical.  ; )

Snickerdoodle Topped Bourbon Peach Cobbler_II       Snickerdoodle Topped Bourbon Peach Cobbler     Snickerdoodles_3

Gluten and Dairy Free Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy Muffins_CloseUp

I have a real love hate relationship with bananas.

I love the taste and the port-a-blility of bananas. For as long as I can remember, bananas have been a staple in my diet. Back in the days before so many kids were diagnosed with peanut allergies, you could guarantee I’d have a banana in my school lunchbox 2-3 times a week. Usually it was in the form of a peanut butter and banana sandwich but just as often I’d find the fruit (which is actually a berry) as is.

As I entered by teen years and my love for cooking, especially baking, grew, the more I came to love bananas. I mean, who doesn’t love Banana Bread, Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies or Warm Campfire Banana Sundaes? Ever since I bought my first cookbook (D.C.I. Music Department’s Favourite Recipes) I have been on the hunt for the very best banana bread recipe. If you were to look though my cookbook collection, you would definitely find that the pages that have banana flavoured bakery recipes are the most splattered, smudged and well used. I thought I had finally found “The One”. Then I went gluten and dairy free and the search has since resumed.

I think of myself as someone who tries to stay active and I take a lot of pride in eating healthy so I love that bananas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, B6 and Vitamin C.

Bananas promote good digestion and mood balancing. Good for me as I am recovering from intestinal issues and also good because I often take the drug Prednisone which can cause depression as a side effect.

I know, so far this post sounds like a love fest for bananas. So where’s the hate part???

I hate that when the warmer weather finally comes to southern Ontario, my bananas get ripe faster than I can eat them…. I know, it’s not a big reason…but  it made for an interesting opening line.

Anyway, I woke up this morning and realized that I had three bananas that had got to the point of no return and just had to be baked into something. So, my plan for showcasing the fresh Ontario strawberries, now available in my area will have to wait.

I give you Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins Mis En Plas

Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins Mis En Plas

1 ¼ cup all purpose gluten free flour (my blend or your favourite)
¼ cup high protein gluten free flour blend (my blend or more of your favourite)
½  cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½  tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp double acting baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup melted coconut or canola oil
1 egg
¾ cup gluten free oats
¾ cup dairy free chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease or line 18 regular size muffin cups

In small bowl, combine oats and chocolate chips, set aside.
In large bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Whisk to combine.  Add all wet ingredients to dry. Mix well.
Fold in the oat/chocolate mixture.
Fill muffin cups to within one third of the top. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Store in airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month

Fresh Out Of the Oven

Smilin' Mmuffins

Smilin’ Mmuffins

Gluten Free Flour Part 2

Hallelujah, it’s Wednesday!

Last week, in  All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Part 1  I posted about my favourite go-to  gluten free all purpose flour recipe.

I also mentioned that it was one of my two favourite recipes, implying, of course that there is a second favourite recipe.  Gluten Free Higher Protein Blend All Purpose Flour

This is a great blend for  tea and yeast breads, cakes and muffins. I use it as the main flour and in addition to my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. Basically any recipe where I want to have a chewier, more bread like texture, I add some of this mix.  I regularly add some to almost all my muffin recipes and I even add a bit to my waffle recipes, if I plan to use the waffles for sandwiches.

As with my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend, it is key to use a fine grind of brown rice flour. Brown rice is a good source of protein and delivers a better flavour and more nutrients than white rice flour, getting a fine grind provides a smooth texture. In addition to the brown rice flour, I use quinoa and chickpea flours as both are also good sources of protein.

Gluten Free Higher Protein Blend All Purpose Flour

1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch
3/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tbsp + 1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Measure ingredients into a large bowl, in order  listed. By putting the tapioca starch on the bottom, the other ingredients will help keep this very light “flour” from “poofing up” all over the place. With a large whisk, thoroughly blend all ingredients. Store in an air tight container and refrigerate.

Yesterday, in my post Daily Prompts: Red Pill Blue Pill I included a photo of these muffins.

Today I give you the recipe:

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

1 1/4 cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1/4 cup Gluten Free Higher Protein Blend All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup espresso or strong brewed coffee, cooled
1/2 cup rice milk, or other dairy free milk
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips
muffin cup liners

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In medium size bowl, combine first six ingredients, whisk to combine. Add in all the wet ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.  Scoop batter into lined muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean, approx. 20 min for large muffins, 10 minutes for mini muffins.

This batch will yield about 18 large muffins. Store in an air tight container 2-3 days.  These muffins, wrapped individually,  freeze very well.

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

»Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue PillIf you could get

»

Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill

If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?

 

Hmmm, this requires a list of pros and cons…

 

The Pro List:

  • Ok, so I’d have loads of spare time freed up by the fact that I would no longer need to plan, shop for and cook my meals.
  • Those of us with food allergies could probably even get an allergy free version (and not even miss the difference between ours and the “regular” pill).
  • I wouldn’t have the stress  of trying to accommodate the different food likes and dislikes of family members.
  • I could get rid of all my dishes, pots, pans, cooking and eating utensils and my dining table, my chest freezer, my fridge, my dishwasher
  • H…and gain loads of extra space in my home.

 

The Con List:

  • There would be no reason to make this
Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos

Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos

or these

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

Wake Me Up! Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Espresso Muffins

or these

Lemon Tart Cookies II

Lemon Tart Cookies II

 

I think I’d vote no. : )

How would you vote?

 

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, Part 1

I have always been a baker. I have baked a batch of cookies, muffins or something at least once a week for close to thee decades. When my sons were very little, I would bake mini muffins to bring with us on play dates. Later on, when my boys started school, there was a strict “No Nuts” policy in effect. This was before the grocery stores began to carry a plethora of guaranteed peanut free baked goods, so I baked to add “fun stuff” to their lunches. At one point I could whip off a batch of mini muffins in the time it took to brew my morning pot of coffee. : )

Then I went gluten free…

In my early gluten free days, I went through a massive case of what I can only describe as “baker’s withdrawal”.

It seemed like every time I wanted to bake something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie, I had to have a  shop full of specialty flours. Each recipe I found required a different blend. It was frustrating, to say the least. I wanted to find one blend I could use for many of my recipes. I had tried a few gluten free “all purpose blends”, but they tended to be have a “beanie” after taste or the textures were gritty. I didn’t want either in my treats. I also wanted a flour blend that I could have on hand in larger quantities.

Today I thought I’d do a post on one of the most important ingredients I keep in my kitchen.

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

I have two, hands-down, guaranteed to work, favourite flour blends that work as cup for cup substitutions for wheat flour.

The first one is my go-to blend for cookies, sponge style cakes, thickeners and waffles. It is also a major ingredient in my muffin recipes. The key is using a very fine grind of brown rice flour. Use this blend, cup for cup in place of wheat flour. However, if the recipe you use this in has salt as an ingredient, I would omit the salt as there is salt already in this blend. I use this blend in:

GF/DF Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

GF/DF Happy Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

Dee’s “Quick & Easy” GF/DF Breakfast Waffles

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

4 ½ cups tapioca flour
9 cups brown rice flour
3 cups potato starch (not flour!)
3 tbsp xanthan gum
1 ½ tbsp salt

You’ll also need: 1 very large bowl + 1 very large airtight container.
Carefully measure out ingredients in the order listed into your large bowl.  Adding the tapioca starch to the bowl first will help keep this very light flour from “poofing up” all over your kitchen. : )
Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, thoroughly blend with a wire whisk. I tend to use this quantity up in about 1 ½ -2 months. Baked goods made with this blend freeze very well.

An excellent flour blend for cookies, waffles and light cakes!

An excellent flour blend for cookies, waffles and light cakes!