Tuesday

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe



After being in the park since the wee hours of the morning, we decided to hit up Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe around 11:30 am. This turned out to be a stellar lunch choice. Barely anyone was there! It was great to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere without feeling rushed. This is a very big place so I imagine that when it gets busy, it also gets quite loud as well.

We really loved the entertainment of Sonny Eclipse! In case you are not familiar with him, he is a Jazz singer from somewhere far away in the galaxy. Sonny's shows are about a half an hour long and he even cracks some funny jokes between songs.

The set up of Cosmic Ray's takes a moment or two to grasp. There are 3 "Bays" from which you can place your order. Each bay has its very own menu, line ups, and cash registers.


Bay 1 : Chicken and Pork
Bay 2 : Burgers and Hot Dogs
Bay 3 : Sandwiches, Wraps, Soups


Make sure you are at the Bay you want as they will not make you anything that is offered at the alternate Bays. I suggest anyone who will be eating here with children, scope out the menu beforehand (online before you get to the park) and go in with a plan.

 We ordered from the Burger Bay. As per Disney protocol, we advised the cashier that we would need to order Gluten Free. Within minutes a super bubbly and charming manager came by to take our order. It's a good thing it was not busy as we had to wait at the Burger Bay for our order. Thankfully it was only about a ten-minute wait.

Also worth noting,Cosmic rays has the infamous condiment station that has been known to produce a salad or two. Thankfully they also carry packets of Ketchup, Mayo ect.. which have the ingredients listed right on them.

 Both my mom and I ordered bacon cheeseburgers with a side or fries and an Enjoy Life cookie for dessert. Holy yum batman! I'm not sure what brand of Gluten-Free buns Disney uses, but they were soft and could not be more perfect. The burger itself was a welcome treat as well. The meat patty was nice and thin, quite the decent change from the ones I'm used to buying in the grocery store. I saved my cookie for later on in the day. When I got to it, I was so impressed that I was actually a bit sad. Why? Well, because I was hooked and we don't have these cookies at home.



Monday

A Gluten Free Mammoth Of A Sandwich At Disney's Boardwalk Bakery


After checking into our Little Mermaid room at the Art of Animation resort, we decided to hit up Disney's Boardwalk.  By this point both my mom and I were excited and ready for our first real taste of Gluten Free Disney.


A little bit about Boardwalk Bakery - It's super tiny inside. Like 4 people in line makes this place jam packed kind of tiny. Seating is located outside along the store front as per the top left photo with my family eating away. The style and setting of Boardwalk Bakery reminds me of something you would see in France. Not that I've been, but that's just the feeling it gave me.



While waiting for our order we had to shuffle around quite a bit as there is no real waiting area for us special diet peeps. This made for an awkward dance. After about 15 minutes, we were presented with mammoth Turkey sandwiches. The photo doesn't do my words justice. These things were HUGE. We were on the Disney Quick Service dining plan which included a drink, side and dessert with this meal. I was so full after only half of my sandwich that I took my chips and blueberry muffin back to the hotel. My mom had the vanilla frosted cupcake to the left of my muffin.She took that back to the hotel to keep in the fridge as well. When we did get to our desserts they were heavenly!

I would recommend Boardwalk Bakery to anyone on a Gluten Free diet. Keep in mind that options here are pretty much limited to what we ate. Great tasting and  satisfying portions trump variety in my book though. If you are going to check out this lovely little bakery, I would suggest hitting it during off peak meal times. I would also recommend checking with Disney ahead of time to verify that they are still serving Gluten Free food as things can and do change.


Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - BabyCakes For My BabyCake

Lincoln enjoying a Gluten Free doughnut at BabyCakes in Downtown Disney

Monday

Review: Petro's Chili & Chips

West Town Mall, Knoxville Tennessee

This was our first major stop on our drive to Walt Disney World. We left at 7:00pm on a Friday night and arrived in Knoxville around 9:30am Saturday morning. Not bad I say! Our original plan was to get a hotel in this beautiful city and then take on some shopping. 

After checking out the Knoxville Welcome Center we discovered that there was a major football game this particular weekend which resulted in price surges and Zero availability at local hotels.

Clearly being Canadian  and a Leafs fan (Go Leafs Go!) prevented me from planning ahead for this one. I knew football was popular in America, but I didn't realize how big College football was. The team spirit was pretty fantastic! All over Tennessee, everyone was covered in Orange Jerseys, Hats, Jackets  and face paint. Even cars had the giant signature orange "T" decal.  We saw the odd Florida fan in the mix as well

This brings us back to West Town Mall. After giving up on a hotel, we decided to take a break for some lunch and stretch our legs. I had prepared myself for more disappointment, this time in the food department. I was ready to go back to the car to dig something out of the cooler.

 Boy was I pleasantly surprised!!! 


I saw a baked potato on this menu and figured I better check it out! The guy working was awesome. After my usually needed speech about Gluten Free, he told me his grandmother is Celiac too and that all the Gluten Free items on the menu are indicated by with the letters "GF" in a red circle. 



My mom and I split the nachos and baked potato. It was soo good and it felt great to get some food with real substance into our tummies. There's only so much you can pack in a cooler without fear of it going bad. Especially in the Gluten Free department. So this was great! Really great. 



I would recommend visiting this mall to anyone making their way through Knoxville. It's very spacious and really pretty! The shopping opportunities are endless. Stores like Brookstone, Belk, and JC Penny were pleasant deviations from the norm for us. Is my Canadian showing yet?

Another plus is the kids play area that we discovered. It's in the center of the mall with a soft padded floor and lots of seating for moms and dads. Lincoln had such a great time running around here! He definitely deserved this play time after being such a great sport during our 14-hour drive.

After some time at the mall, we ended up driving a few more hours more and spent the night in a Comfort Suite just passed the Georgia border for under $100.00 US. Hubby was the sole driver so he gets the trooper award! Not only was he alert and happy, he dealt with the crazy hectic I-75 drivers and traffic backup, splendidly. I should note that he slept a good 9 hours the night before the trip, got up for a little bit and then went back to bed for another 5 hours. Probably the most sleep he has ever gotten.  


The West Town Mall is located at 7600 KINGSTON PIKE, KNOXVILLE, TN 37919-5600





Sunday

Homemade Gluten Free Stuffing With Gravy


Homemade bread that has gone stale. I then cut it into cubes and toasted it.





Other ingredients you will need:
2 cups red onion and 1 1/2 cup celery. Both finely chopped.
Gluten Free Croutons and chicken broth. Read all chicken broth labels as some contain wheat. 


                                        Melt 2/3 cup of butter.

                                    Add onion and celery. Saute.

Add 2 cups chicken broth and reduce on low heat. Pour over croutons.
Seasonings that I added: Mrs Dash, Salt, Pepper, Poultry Seasoning and Sage.





                                         Prepackaged croutons
                                         Homemade croutons

.

I mixed both homemade and store bought croutons together. Place in the oven until golden brown, with a slight crust. Don't forget to occasionally stir the mix with a wooden spoon to ensure even heating

Finished stuffing

Next time I think I will go back to spreading the mixture over cookie sheets as it provides a much more even crisping of the stuffing. Tasted great, though!




The gravy I use is really easy to make. I make it regularly. Like all the time regularly. All you need is a packet of Club House gluten-free gravy mix.

Thursday

Chuck E. Cheese Does Gluten-free the Right Way


Chuck E. Cheese now offers Gluten Free Pizza and Gluten Free chocolate cupcakes! Hurrah because they do it the right way! Watch the video to see why I'm so excited...

This should be a learning tool for any company that wishes to incorporate Gluten Free items on to their menu. Way to go Chuck E. Cheese!


Visit chuckecheese.com/new-glutenfree-offerings for more details regarding Gluten Free items, availability and their prices.

Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - eos Gluten Free


Thursday

President's Choice Gluten Free Bread Review

Presidents Choice Gluten Free Bread




As far as price goes, the cost for Presidents Choice Gluten Free bread is average. It was not overly expensive like some brands out there. At $5.99 it falls in the  right in the middle as far as GF bread prices go.




This is a dense bread. The feel of it in my hand reminded me of pound cake. In defense of the pound cake comparison, this bread makes AMAZING french toast! I like to think of it as a breakfast bread, or even a grilled cheese bread. So many options here.



Toasted or not this bread isn't going to chip your teeth. Always a great start!

I really like that it is sold in a non frozen state. I find any GF bread that has been frozen, just doesn't come off right.




When the bread is eaten lightly toasted it is pretty good! It probably would not hold up a sandwich without being toasted prior. Do note that there is a recommendation to toast this bread on the back of the sandwich bag. 


As I went through my loaf of bread, I noticed some slices were falling apart or already in pieces. Most likely due to the delicateness of the bread and being manhandled in the grocery store.






Toasted
Not Toasted















If you choose the adventurous non toasting route, be prepared for that all to common  crumbly, lodged in your throat dryness that goes hand in hand with our special bread. Not as bad as some brands out there, but noticeable still.


I would definitely buy Presidents Choice Gluten Free bread if I ran out of my usual bread (Kinnikinnick Soft Bread). It's far superior to certain frozen GF breads on the market and does the trick if you just want a slice of toast. 

This is a great start for a company who is a newcomer to Gluten Free products! I look forward to seeing improvements to the bread. There's always room for improvement right? I also look forward to seeing a wider variety of Gluten Free products from Presidents Choice....like ready made meals that can be popped into the oven. *hint* *hint* 














Wednesday

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N !



Recently my family had the most wonderful Disney vacation. During that time, we attended Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party. This event requires a separate ticket as the park closes to non event ticket holders at 7pm.

We arrived at the park around 5:30pm ( I believe they start allowing party guests in at 4pm) and I proceeded to City Hall to get my much anticipated Gluten Free candy bag. Alas they had none left. The gal taking care of us radioed around to see if someone could bring up some GF treats to her. She then told me to come back by 7pm when the party officially starts to see if there was any candy left. She took my name and said she would hold a bag for me. We headed back just before 7 and thankfully there was small bag of Celiac safe treats set aside!


I should tell you that cast members are not shy about handing out candy. We each got handfuls at every candy location around Magic Kingdom. Candy hunting aside, this was a spectacular event! Disney caps the attendance so lines never get out of hand. The only time we ever encountered huge line was for character meet and greets.                                     

We were at the party for about 5 hours when we decided that it was time to call it a night. Aside from a couple of things, I think we pretty much conquered everything we set out to do this night. There were no meltdowns and Lincoln actually fell asleep before we got back to the hotel. although he didn't spend a lot of time in the stroller, it was handy to have! 

Official gluten-free candy stash





My candy stash is obviously much smaller than that of everyone else's  In all honesty it really doesn't bother me. The event in itself was worth the price. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun we had. Do take note that mixed into the "regular" candy collected throughout the night, were a few that stated "gluten free" under the ingredient list. There were also some that although did not state GF, a quick check with the manufacturer proved they were safe.So keep those eyes peeled.


Regular Candy Pile (3 bags!)


If you can make it out to this event which runs on select nights In September and October, I highly recommend it! Even if you do not like candy, there is so so much fun to be had throughout the evening! 

Monday

Presidents Choice Launches Gluten Free Product Line

Display in bakery department at RCSS


Notice that Spelt Cookies are at far right of display on both shelves.  

 Stuff like this really concerns me. Hubby and I have different views on the matter. He feels that everyone should notice that the cookies are Spelt and that they are technically at the end of the display with no GF label near the price tag.

 Although constant vigilance is a must, I find displays like this can confuse people. I read and re -read every label. Thats just my nature. For someone gathering groceries on a busy day, they may see the Gluten Free sign and grab something without first verifying that it is indeed Gluten Free. When I read the label for the Spelt cookies I noticed something a little scary. Something that will probably confuse many who are new to the GF diet or poorly educated in regards to it. The label stated that the cookies contain a Gluten similar to Wheat Gluten. Some people may think that this is actually safe for them to eat when in fact it is quite harmful.


Another thing that will likely confuse people into purchasing this non GF product is that the displays seem to vary by location. Some locations have only Gluten Free food in the display, while locations like mine have it slightly mixed with Gluten containing products to both the right and left. 




End cap in "Natural Selection" aisle

Hopefully this is just a learning curve and Real Canadian Superstore will change it up. I sampled the Presidents Choice Gluten Free Bread today and will have a review up soon.


Dominos Canada And The Not So Gluten Free Crust







So it begins....Dominos Canada now offers a Gluten Free Crust with a small side of disclaimer.

Clearly they did not get the message about offering a Gluten Free product that does not remain that way. See  my post-Dearest Domino's regarding their American introduction of this not so Gluten Free pizza.

Why oh whyyyy?

Why not just call it carb friendly or health wise? Something of that nature would be a lot more acceptable as it is not misleading in any way.

I don't understand the effort to target a specific group of people if you cannot and will  not properly accommodate them? I'm not saying that Celiac Disease owns Gluten Free, but to us those words represent safety. Gluten Free means we should not have to look for fine print or legal disclaimers.



Do we see sorta Kosher food or almost nut free items? No, we sure don't! So why is it that Celiac Disease does not get understanding and respect?

Canada is usually pretty on the ball with the safety of Gluten Free products. This whole Dominos debacle bothered me so much that I contacted the Canadian Celiac Association. They take matters like this very seriously and are now looking into it.


I want to thank Sue Newell of the Canadian Celiac Association for responding to my concern. and I am happy to say that they have posted a notice to their members in regards to this issue. 


When Sue contacted  Dominos Canada, she received a  very well worded and sneaky response

"I spoke to the legal representative for Dominos Canada today and he told me that they are selling a gluten-free crust, but not a gluten-free pizza. To me, that is trying to skirt a very fine line."


According to Sue, she also contacted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ,and the issue at hand has been referred to the Retail Food Program for discussion.

Clearly, Celiac Awareness is needed. Scary.
The Canadian Celiac Association is looking to work with Dominos to develop a standard that would allow them to sell a 100% GF pizza, not just a crust. While I commend this effort, I do see it as a lost cause. Dominos is a very small store storefront and cannot provide a safe handling area. If they want to serve Gluten Free pizza the right way. They should serve pre made Gluten Free pizza that is sealed in a heatproof container until the customer opens it. This prevents any and all risk of cross contamination as it would be sealed before leaving the production factory and remain that way throughout the serving process.

I don't see this being a difficult option as Domino's already goes the length to ensure that the crust is Gluten Free. They just can't/won't/don't provide an area to have this crust remain Gluten Free.

All in all, the effort to serve a GF crust if there is zero intent on having it remain that way continues to baffle me.





Saturday

Gluten Free Expo Toronto 2012


Awesome swag bag 
Last Sunday, September 30th I attended the Gluten Free Expo in Toronto with my husband and our three year old son. I was super excited for this event and I hope to see another one next year. While it was a great experience, there were definitely a few hiccups.  I don't want to focus too much on the negative as I'm sure that this was a monstrous event to put together and the packed to the walls turn out can only mean good things.


Lets start with the positives

  • Amazing turn out  - I was seriously surprised by how many people turned up for the event. Hopefully this kind of enthusiasm will lead to more awareness and more variety on the store shelves.

  • Awesome variety of vendors - There were the known favourites such as Kinnikinnick, Udis, and Pamelas. And there were so many companies that I had never heard of until I tried a sample or spoke to them at their booths. The vendors ranged from food companies and catering to restaurants and magazines. There was also a vendor representing the Chicago Centre for Celiac Disease! Awesome possum.
  • great items available for purchase - Wow. Just wow. I probably could have purchased several weeks worth of groceries here. Some vendors had  pretty great deals as well. 
  • Everyone was in good spirits - This says it all I think
  • My little guy managed the 2 hours we were there without a melt down! Woohoo! He also enjoyed all of the yummy Gluten Free samples that he tried.
  • Loads of yummy samples. Seriously yummy  And nothing beats a sample of something to encourage a purchase
    Gluten Free Samples and Coupons
  • Easy to gain entrance with pre-purchased tickets - That itself was a great option! Hope to see this again.


    Jax and Myself
  • Had the opportunity to meet Jax! Had to save the best for last on my list of positives. She is truly a Gluten Free inspiration and I recommend having a regular peak at her website Gluten Free Ontario




Alright, on to the not so fun stuff


  • We arrived at 9:50 am and waited a good ten minutes to turn into the parking lot. We entered the venue at about 10:10am and it was packed. By 11:30 it was so crowded that vendors were hard to gain access to. Just walking through the crowd was tough. It seemed like there was not enough space for people to line up at the vendors without causing a blockage to the people who just wanted to pass by. 

  • Paid $9.00 for parking. I had no idea until we got there that parking would not be free. My fault for not looking into it but I figured $18 on 2 tickets would qualify for free parking or at least some sort of a discount for attending the expo.

  • When we left it was very chaotic as there is only one exit from the parking lot. We sat in a lineup of cars for 35 minutes before a second ticket booth was opened and someone came out to direct the flow of vehicles. My dad works by the Toronto Airport and apparently this is a common logistics issue at this  particular venue. All in all, I'm happy nobody freaked out and eventually (35 minutes later) traffic got flowing at a somewhat fair pace. 
  • No time to really get to know vendors or learn about the products. We ended up leaving when things got to the point of not being able to get to the booths and see what products were there. Although we strolled by most tables, there were some like the Chicago Center for Celiac Disease where I could only squeeze in enough to snag a pamphlet. Really wish I could have been able to have a chat with them. Everything just felt so rushed.

  • I  heard that a few vendors were eating non GF foods at their booths. Thats a big no no. Also, I feel as though any vendor that had GF oats in a product should have had a disclaimer saying so as many Celiacs, including myself get ill from even Gluten Free oats. 




Would I attend a future event?

Hubby & little man in parking lot
Yes, but I would attend with a different frame of mind. Perhaps taking turns navigating the Expo with hubby. This way one of us can keep the little man happy and out of the crowds. It was too difficult to navigate a stroller through the tight space and much too hard for my little guy to walk without getting tripped over.

Next time I will be expecting some big crowds. I will also buy products as I visit the booths instead of attempting to go back at the end of our rounds.


NEW products that caught my eye at the Gluten Free Expo

 At $4.00 they come already made and you just pop em in the oven. Talk about convenient  I have made my own version of these cheese buns for several years and Forno Mina is so authentic. Nothing compares to the airiness and texture  they are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Boring Porridge
I was skeptical at first but HOLY MOLY was it great. Add this to Vanilla yogurt and bam, you have a healthy and easy to make snack. I am such a fan now will have to order this online for sure. Shipping across Canada is only $2.00! 











Monday

Gluten Free Kid Friendly Recipes

Have a little one with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance? 

Creating healthy gluten free meals, that appeal to kids can be tough. So many things are off limits as Celiac often goes hand in hand with other intolerance's or allergies.

The search for gluten free recipes to please little pallet's just got easier. Check out 30 Blogs with Gluten Free Recipes for Kids . Here you will find  recipes for all of the days meals, plus sweet snacks, savory snacks AND dessert. 

Not to be missed on this website :


  • Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Poptarts
  • Easy Kid's Lunchboxes
  • Crispy Seasoned Chicken
  • A Gluten Free Crustless Apple Pie
  • Butter Cookies
  • Reconstructing Goldfish Crackers: Gluten Free Style


I'm looking forward to trying several of these recipes myself!

 Happy cooking!




Thursday

Gluten Free Expo Toronto


Come out to the Gluten Free Expo in Toronto Septemeber 30th! There will be vendors, coupons, samples and more!


Here are the event details :
Gluten Free Expo - TORONTO
September 30, 2012
10am - 5pm
655 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON (DoubleTree by Hilton)
Tickets are $12 at the door or save money by purchasing online for $9 each.


Friday

On The Hunt For A Cookbook? Here is my advice...


What do you look for in a great cook book? I look for a lot of key things. After years of buying cookbooks, trial and error finally paid off and I know know what I really need to look for in one.





Let's start with what I am on alert to avoid


  • First of all, if an entire cook book requires a specific custom flour blend that you have to make yourself, it's out. Numerous different flour blends - blacklisted! Sorry, although it may taste great it's simply too much of an effort for me. At least at this stage in my home cooking.
  • Extremely time consuming recipes - No thank you.
  • Too many ingredients - Enough said.
  • Recipes that are too fancy schmancy- Not a chance.
  • No pictures- I prefer to know what my masterpiece should look like


Don't be afraid to spend some time reading through a cookbook before you buy it! I can't begin to tell you how many cookbooks I have purchased only to try a few recipes and realize, it's just not for my family. Sometimes even the simplest looking recipes can be challenging or not what you expect.


I recommend recipes that use "all purpose" gluten free flours. Less fuss the better.

Here is what I look for in a cookbook
  • Clear, direct and simple directions
  • Accurate prep and finish times (within reason as appliances vary)
  • Noted skill level (novice, intermediate, advance)
  • Bright pictures of finished dish with step by step photos for more complicated tasks
  • Easy to source and Affordable ingredients
  • Tips eg - freezing, storage, ect
  • Pairing suggestions
  • Substitution suggestions
  • Menu plans






Don't be afraid of "regular" cookbooks that are not specifically aimed at those who are Gluten Free. It took me a while to try some out, but I haven't looked back. The only time I stick to traditionally GF recipes is when it comes to sweets.



When it comes to bread products I recommend my personal baker of sorts Kinnikinnick. There is nothing better than their soft bread products!



Eventually, you will know what you can and cannot tackle with a blink of the eye. It just takes practice. Expensive practice.


What do you look for when purchasing a cookbook?
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Monday

Back To School Gluten Free Safety

It's that special time of year again. No, not Christmas. It's 
almost time for the School year to begin. First day of the year is one week tomorrow where I am.


Sending Gluten Free kids to school can be a scary thought. Although my little guy is not intolerant to anything, I am trying to teach him about not sharing any food at school. Period. Sounds a little harsh I know. But in my opinion its better to be safe than sorry. The last thing I want is for him to share his lunch with someone who may be intolerant to it. There are so many food intolerance's out there and its not reasonable to expect very young children to understand them just yet.


Here are my top tips for back to school Gluten Free safety.

1) Have a sit down meeting with your child's teacher, principal and PTA head. Bring any materials you think will help to clearly get the message across. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

2) Supply both the teacher and office with a letter explaining how medically important remaining Gluten Free is for your child and the details of Celiac Disease. 

3) Advise that if there is accidental consumption of Gluten, that your child may need to use the washroom suddenly and possibly for multiple visits. Depending on the age your child and severity of the reaction, you may want to have the school contact you immediately.

4) Go over an action plan with your child and teacher about what to do in case of accidental glutening.

5) Ask the teacher for a list of dates where there will be food brought in for a special occasion such as a child's birthday or a Halloween party. Make note of these dates and send your child to school with a special treat for that day.

6) Make sure teachers know that your child cannot participate in crafts involving  regular noodles and play dough. Point out that children often touch their mouth without realizing it and how this would cause accidental ingestion of Gluten. See if you can provide a small craft kit to be kept at the school for your child. 

Items that can be included in craft kit : homemade GF playdough , GF noodles , peel and stick stickers, GF finger paint. The kit doesnt have to be huge. Just make sure it includes the GF version of what the other students will be using.

7) Advise that under NO circumstances is your child to be given any food other then what you have sent with them. Not all children are comfortable saying no and some don't understand the severity of their intolerance's until they are older.

8) Suggest that the teacher and or Librarian read a book about Celiac Disease to the students. Some great options are :



Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?: A look at the sunny side of being a gluten-free kid













If you have any back to school tips, feel free to share via comment :)
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