Vegetarian taco salad (plus a GF taco beef recipe)

Amy:

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We wanted some mexican food the other day but torillas are off limits except for the corn variety which I have not consistently found in my town.  Oddly enough…tortilla chips tend to be GF, so taco salad it was!  We got a large bag of quinoa, chia and kale tortilla chips from Costco in the city which are super tasty. 

For the men I made some taco beef which satified there taco cravings.  I wanted to make a vegetarian version and settled on lentils as my vehicle for carrying the taco flavour 😀 

We definitely all gourged on delicious-ness last night.  I love finding normal meals that are naturally gluten free like this one!   

Ingredients:

Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder and ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper

Taco Flavoured Lentils

1 cup lentils + 2 cups water

1 tablespoon (or more) of taco seasonings mix

Taco Salad Ingredients

Chopped romaine lettuce

Diced fresh tomatoes

Shredded cheese

Salsa, greek yogurt (or low fat sour cream)

Tortilla chips – check they are gluten free

GF Taco Beef Recipe 

1 pound of beef, browned and drained

2 tablespoons of taco mix

1 tablespoon of brown rice flour mixed with 1 cup of water (more water as needed)

Directions:

 1. Mix together seasonings in a small bowl, set aside.

2. Rinse lentils in a strainer and pick out any rocks or shriveled lentils.  Add to a small sauce pan with water and simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender. Add more water if needed.  Once tender and water has all been absorbed, add spice mixture until it has enough flavour for your taste.

3. Cut and prep the rest of the ingredients, serve in little bowls so your family can assemble their own salad as they like!

4. For the taco beef – brown and drain beef.  Add taco seasoning mix and stir well to coat.  Mix brown rice flour with water in a measuring cup and add to pan, stirring until thickened and bubbly.  You may need to add more water as necessary if it gets too thick.

Enjoy!!!

Refreshing Watermelon Lime Smoothie

I came up with this little beauty of a snack after a nice walk in the heat the other day.  It was so refreshing I had to force myself to slow down and enjoy it.  I’m sure you could play around with it and add different flavours like strawberry or kiwi, etc.  It’s a nice way to use up a big watermelon before it starts getting mushy in the fridge.  Delicious and nutritious!

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Ingredients:

2 cups of watermelon, cubed

4 ice cubes

1 tsp lime juice

Directions:

Blend together until frothy and smooth!  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Apple Crisp

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This is one of my favourite dessert of my childhood and continues to be…there is something about the tart taste of apple and rhubarb mixed with brown sugar that is just so satisfying.
When we were kids we used to eat rhubarb straight out of the garden dipped in brown sugar!
This rhubarb I got from the farmers market since it’s spring time!

Ingredients

– 3 large peeled, cored and sliced apples

– 3 cups, chopped rhubarb

– 2 tablespoon white sugar

– 2 tablespoons corn starch

– 1 tbsp lemon juice

Crumbs:

– 1 cup wheat-free rolled oats (I use Only Oats)

– 1/3 cup brown sugar

– ¼ cup gluten free all-purpose flour

– ¼ cup dairy-free margarine or butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. In a pie plate combine the sliced apples, rhubarb, sugar, corn starch and lemon juice. Stir to coat well.

3. In a medium bowl mix together the oats, brown sugar and flour.

4. Cut in the margarine or butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.

5. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, evenly.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the topping is nice and golden brown.

7. Let sit a few minutes before serving.

Simple Meal Ideas – Gluten Free

Amy:

My best advice for people with celiac’s disease is to start SUPER simple and work your way up from there.  Start with the Super Simple “S’s”

1. Sunday Suppers – by this I mean

A) Start with a simple meat or meat alternative such as roasted chicken, BBQ-ed chicken, steak, plain tofu, cooked lentils or beans.  Use simple flavour enhancers at first before you investigate safe sauces to use – garlic and onion powder, lemon juice, olive oil, gluten free soy sauce, etc. All Kraft BBQ sauces are gluten free.

B) Add in plain baked potato/rice/quinoa.

C) Serve along with plain vegetables and/or salad, milk and fruit. 

2. Salads – take a big plate of greens and load it up with different gluten free toppings like any vegetable or fruit, cheese, beans, corn, salsa, sour cream, diced cooked chicken, avocado, crushed nuts, etc. Make a basic vinegrette dressing with olive oil, vinegar and a bit of honey. There are a lot of gluten free salad dressings on the market.

3. Stir-fry – start with a protein either meat or an alternate (like tofu), cook until done, set aside.  Fill up a big pan with vegetables either fresh or frozen vegetables and cook until tender.  Mix meat back into pan.  If desired you can use coconut milk and curry powder, some gluten free soy sauce or try some hot sauce for flavour.  Serve over top of brown rice.

4. Sandwiches – for this you would have to use gluten free bread.  Usually it tastes better when the bread is toasted but if you aren’t at home, try toasting at home before you take it with you.  You will need a new toaster that hasn’t seen a piece of wheat bread or use a toaster bag such as “toasta bags” (http://www.amazon.com/Toastabags-Reusable-Non-Stick-Sandwich-Grilling/dp/B001UHNMM0). Use any gluten free sandwich filling that you like, just as before!  Vegetables, cheese, fish, eggs, lean plain meats, condiments that are from a squeeze bottle or jar that has not been CONTAMINATED with a knife in contact with gluten. Other easy GF options instead of bread would be using lettuce as a wrap for the sandwich (nice and crisp!) or using rice papers to wrap around the filling (they just need to be rehydrated in boiling water).  

5. Soups/Stews – first things first is to get rid of all stock that isn’t gluten free – which will be most if not all that you have in your house.  There are a few gluten free broth options in the store, try to find a low sodium version. Kitchen Basics is a good brand. Also trust your soup ingredients and plain spices, salt and pepper to do all the flavouring for you!  Most of your favourite recipes can still be made without stock, just amp up the plain herbs that you use. Use corn starch or potato starch/flour instead of flour for a thickener if needed or even instant mashed potatoes. 

6. Smoothies – a fun way of getting a meal into a glass.  Experiment with different smoothie ideas – including green smoothies (good way to get your greens in) or hearty smoothies with greek yogurt or peanut butter.  Play around with different kinds of fruits also.

Beginner Gluten Free Breakfast Ideas

Amy:

A diagnosis of celiac’s disease can be overwhelming for a household.  Breakfast was one of the most challenging meals for us at first…so I put together a few ideas of meals that have worked well for us, simple and normal type foods. 

1. Gluten free cereal, milk and fruit – we found Gluten Free Rice Krispies and Gluten Free Rice Chex in our grocery stores.  All other cereal either contain wheat or they contain a derivative like barley MALT flavouring which is in everything like rice krispies, corn flakes, etc. Health food stores or Bulk Barn have more selection of cold gluten free cereals but they tend to be pricey.

2. Find some WHEAT FREE oats at a health food store or bulk store.  The celiac association recommends no more than 1/2 – 3/4 cup of dried CLEAN oats per day.  Commercial oats like Quakers are processed in the same facility as wheat so cross contamination is a big problem.  Only buy oats that specify they are produced in a wheat free facility such as Only Oats. Try adding in other ingredients such as unsweetened coconut, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, raisin, walnuts and cinnamon!

3. Find some gluten free bread for toast.  It will take some taste testing to find one that you think is palatable.  My husband likes the Udi’s brand of cinnamon raisin GF bread.  It’s been a big help in our transition.  *NOTE you need to use a CLEAN toaster than hasn’t been contaminated with wheat based bread. Buy a new one, they are impossible to clean out completely and LABLE it if other people in your house are having wheat toast. You can also use a toaster bag such as “Toasta Bags” http://www.amazon.com/Toastabags-Reusable-Non-Stick-Sandwich-Grilling/dp/B001UHNMM0 which protect your bread from contaimination and it’s great for travelling.

4. Homemade hashbrowns – pre cook some potatoes, slice them or dice them and bake or fry them with some oil, salt and pepper.  Serve with eggs, gluten free bacon, tomatoes and/or fruit!

5. Cottage cheese or yogurt and fruit with ground flaxseed sprinkled over top. You can also mix some clean oats into yogurt overnight with berries to make overnight oats.

6. Spread an apple, pear, or banana with peanut butter, sunflower seed butter or pumpkin seed butter. 

7. Smoothies – Try making your favourite smoothie for breakfast. Make them hearty by adding greek yogurt, milk, fruit, peanut butter, etc and whip up a nice breakfast! Amp up the nutrition by adding spinach, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, etc. There are so many recipes on the internet to inspire you.

8. Omlette with veggies, cheese and leftover potatoes with a glass of milk.

Spaghetti Squash Baked with Chicken and Cheese

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Tabitha:

I got this recipe from a dietitian colleague and it sounded too good not to try!  Sure was tasty.  Spaghetti squash is very simple to make…if you know how.  Squash can sometimes be daunting as it is hard to cut up.  My simple tip is to piece the flesh of the squash with a knife or fork and then pop the whole thing into your microwave oven in a microwavable dish (uncovered).  I cook it until I am able to feel that the rind of the squash is softened.  Then I carefully cut it open (careful of the steam) scoop out the seeds and then dig out the squash!  Then you can make anything with it!  Options are endless.  Today I had chicken – so I made a layered chicken and cheese bake.

Spaghetti Squash Baked with Chicken and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 medium sized spaghetti squash

1 jar low sodium tomato sauce

1 chicken breast – cooked

1 medium onion

1 cup diced mushrooms (optional)

Few handfuls of spinach

1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used mozzarella)

Sprinkle of parmesan cheese

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp hot chili flakes

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

 Directions:

1. Cook spaghetti squash (see instructions at the top of the post), carefully cut in half, scoop out seeds and stringy parts.  Then scoop out the squash and evenly divide again into the squash halves (these will be your serving dish.  Mix in the spices.

2. In a medium skillet – saute onion and mushroom in 1 tsp of oil until soft.

3. Layer these ingredients over the squash halves: tomato sauce, onions/mushrooms, spinach, diced (cooked) chicken breast, top with a sprinkle of cheese.

4. Put in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

5. Serve with a garden salad, glass of milk, and a slice of garlic bread on the side!