Tips

Tuesday

5 Must Haves For Your Gluten-Free Pantry

Pasta





Hearty comfort food at it's best, pasta is extremely versatile and widely available. In a pinch for time? Ready in about 9 minutes, pasta is quick to make. You can prepare anything from a refreshing salad to a hearty hot dish. Feeling creative? Give my dessert recipe a try. Another bonus, pasta is one of the few more affordably priced gluten-free foods. 




All Purpose flour



XO BAKING Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend


I personally prefer to use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend. I've had success using Xo Baking, Presidents Choice, and Cloud 9. Find the right all purpose blend to suit your needs and you will be in baking heaven. Pre-made blends are also great as they save time - no more hunting down hard to find ingredients to prepare a homemade blend.


Cereal



Cereal can be enjoyed any time of the day. As a snack or as a meal. It's also great for traveling. Just store some cereal in an airtight container (don't forget the spoon) and you're good to go. Purchase a small carton of milk at your destination and voila! You can take things up a notch by adding fruits or different types of milk. I like a sliced banana, sprinkled with a touch of sugar in my Rice Krispies. Aside from cereal, Rice Krispies are also great for dessert treat bars - perhaps a homemade chocolate covered rice bar or a much loved Rice Krispie Treat. 


Soup



I love this soup! Oddly enough it's dairy free, despite the title. It's rich, creamy and super satisfying. A twist off lid caps the carton top, making things super simple - no can opener required! Soup is such a great pantry staple as you can either have it as a quick side dish (we love BLTs and tomato soup) or a main. It also travels extremely well. Fill a travel mug with some soup and you can really drink it anywhere!


Bread



Whether it's a lettuce wrap, bun or taco, some foods just need a serving vessel. Chebe Cheese Bread Mixes are one of my favorite gluten-free boxed mixes. It requires little effort to make and is ah-mazing. The easily made cheese bread is fantastic as a bun and delicious to dip with. A great thing about this mix is you are not just limited to cheese bread, though it is divine. I've had fun making pizza pockets, savory stuffed muffins and breadsticks. Wanna change things up a bit? Add garlic paste for a yummy twist.




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Thursday

The Gluten-Free Move

We all know that traveling takes some research and preparation when you have Celiac. Did you know that selling your home requires the very same detail? I sure didn't!

I listed my home for sale, sold it and bought a new place all in two short months. Talk about stressful! I wasn't prepared for was the amount of time I would have to be out of my home. Or the lack of safe on the fly, gluten-free options available to me. I was one hungry and grumpy lady for  a little while there.

In retrospect, there is quite a bit I could have done in advance to make things easier on myself. I've created the list below to help you avoid having a hungry meltdown.




Make a list of safe places to eat


This is super important. Otherwise, you will end up hangry and not one wants that. More than a few times, I watched as my family ate a lovely meal somewhere that could not accommodate me. You should also research what menu options are available for you. I cannot tell you how tired I am of french fries, baked potato, & hash browns. 

Prepare picnic lunches


Bento-style containers, like the ones below, make for an easy on the go meal. I suggest preparing a few days worth of meals ahead of time. You will thank yourself for this in the long run. Trust me.

Lunchbox friendly ideas include: 
bagels, sandwiches, fruit, vegetables with dip, yogurt, and muffins. Just make sure you have a cold icepack ready to go.

Have prepackaged, shelf-stable food on hand


Some great example include :
  • Justin's Hazelnut Butter & Pretzels snack packs
  • Popcorn and M&M mixture
  • Dehydrated fruit such as raisins, cranberries, and apples
  • Plain cereal, like Cinnamon Chex, makes a great snack
  • Rice Cereal treats
  • Jerky
Check out my post-Easy Eats For A Gluten Free Trip for more great snacks to have on hand.


Kitchen's are the heart of the home


We looked at several houses before we found "the one". The winning home had everything we wanted, especially a fantastic kitchen, which is bright, big and has a lot of counter space. This was a big deal for me as my current kitchen is tiny and poorly laid out. Having a larger kitchen=safety. There's room to store my gluten-free food (on its own) and a separate area in which I can prepare it.

Whether you're entertaining friends or playing board games with the kiddos, kitchens have become more than just a spot to cook and eat. They are the social heart of the home, a family space where everyone ends up. If you are looking for a new home, make sure you love the kitchen!





Saturday

7 Tips For A Stress Free Gluten-Free Christmas



Hey, everyone! Christmas is just around the corner and I'm super excited! With my gift shopping complete, I am working on a menu for our holiday dinner. If you are worried about hosting a meal for your loved ones, have no fear! I've put together a few tips to help keep you calm and on track. 
Remember to read all labels and when in doubt, go without.





Thursday

Stess Less When Dining Out


Dining out can be frightening and down right stressful. Although many restaurants are providing Gluten Free fare and advertising so, often times they neglect safety in exchange for profit.

Over the years, I have developed a certain mind set when heading out to eat. I try to treat the experience like a job interview. Pretend that you are the employer. Ask questions. A lot of them. Remember, you are looking to see if the restaurant as a whole can safely meet your needs.

Be honest and just tell it like it is. You have an autoimmune disease called Celiac. This is why you need to avoid certain ingredients and it is also why cross contact with offending ingredients is a big no no.

Go with your gut instinct. If something feels off, or too good to be true, it usually is. This leads us to something extremely important. When in doubt, go without. That's right, say it again. Know that there is no shame in politely declining to eat, if you do not feel safe.

Applaud those places which are upfront and honest in not being able to cater safely to restricted diets.  If you are somewhere which cannot accommodate your needs and you are comfortable not eating, order a beverage and enjoy some conversation with your party.

Research in advance, whenever possible. Email head office and get a confirmed list of Gluten Free options as well as a contact at the restaurant. Speak with the contact from this establishment and let them know that you will be visiting and when. If possible, print out the confirmed list of safe items and bring it with you to the restaurant.

Don't settle. If you are tired of the same old salad or baked potato, then go somewhere with more options. Or skip this round of dining out all together. There is no point in inflicting misery upon yourself. 

Don't ever feel like a burden. You didn't ask for this health condition and you need to do everything you can to manage it safely.


Sunday

Empower A Newly Diagnosed Celiac

Below is in my personal opinion, what every newly diagnosed Celiac needs deserves to have at their fingertips.  



The Canadian Celiac Association's Pocket Dictionary. At
$9.95 for non-members it's a bargain. Per the CSA - "This pocket-sized dictionary was developed to help people with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity to select acceptable foods and understand food ingredients so that they may avoid foods containing gluten. It provides a brief description of each item along with an assessment of its acceptability for the gluten-free diet."




A Grocery store tour

How priceless would this be?! A tour around your favourite grocery store with someone who specializes in not only Celiac Disease, but nutrition. This would be a great help in showing newbies where to find safe staples AND what fruits and veggies they should be stocking up on now that they will be lacking some serious nutrients in GF food. I know I'm dreaming here but,it would be a great way to get Celiac's shopping at certain retailers. Just putting it out there...



An informative book on Celiac Disease such as "Real Life with Celiac Disease" by Melinda Dennis and Daniel Leffler. This is  a great book for those who are unfamiliar with Celiac or want to educate themselves further.



A Gluten Free care package

Check out a free basket that the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center offers the newly diagnosed. This is a great way to set people up for success as it contains many essential items that will help alleviate the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty that most of us feel upon diagnosis.






Gluten Free cookbooks

You can find these almost anywhere that sells books now. Pretty awesome! One of my favorites happens to be the DK Gluten-Free Cookbook. Check out my tips for finding a cookbook full of recipes that will work for you here.




A Support group


While there are many of them out there, it is worth investigating to find one that is suitable. Support groups can range from in person gatherings to "pages" on Facebook. Take this with a grain of salt as they only offer the support that members are willing to put into it and can often be a pool of misinformation at times. Rest assured that there are indeed legitimate and helpful groups out there. I suggest starting with either the NFCA or CSA to find a local group or page that is helpful.

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