Smart Secrets to Stay Gluten-Free When You Travel

Staying gluten free at home is one thing. You have a kitchen stocked with all your gluten-free favorites and you know which restaurants can accommodate your needs. Leaving the comforts of home to travel can make your gluten free diet seem more challenging though. The good news is that with a little prep work and determination you can easily stay gluten free while you travel. 

  1. Do Your Homework. Thanks to technology, you have virtually all the information you need for a successful gluten free trip right at your fingertips. Spend a little time prior to your trip researching the best gluten free restaurants and health food stores close to where you’ll be staying.  Try checking on Facebook for gluten-free groups in those areas.  Post questions and ask for opinions.  The locals are definitely one of your best resources.
  2. Think Small. Smaller local restaurants are often more knowledgeable about what goes into their food. This allows them to better help answer any questions you may have to assure gluten free food safety.
  3. Stay Cool. When all else fails, pack a cooler with some of your gluten free favorites. Check with your hotel to see if you can get a room with a small refrigerator to keep gluten free favorites fresh and available whenever you need them.  Getting a hotel suite with a small kitchenette can not only save you from gluten when eating out but also on your food budget in general when travelling.
  4. Get Creative. The barrage of fast food restaurants that litter interstate exits are not exactly known for a wealth of gluten free options. Skip fast food establishments all together and get creative with your pit stops. Look for a nearby grocery store where you can easily grab a banana and peanut butter, deli meat, nuts, cheese and more. If a grocery store isn’t an option, don’t discount a convenience store for a healthy gluten free option. Many convenience stores have fruit, nuts, and protein bars to keep you going if you just think outside the box.

We hope that no matter what you are up to this upcoming March Break or if you are already in summer vacation planning mode, this helps gear you in a positive direction to the best gluten-free travel experience you can have!  We know how important it is, from our family to yours!

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

TGFC on Sale @ Whole Foods Market!

From Wednesday March 1st to Tuesday March 28th all The Gluten Free Chef products that are sold at participating Whole Foods Market stores in British Columbia will be 15% off and more!!  That’s $2 off our pizza crusts and flatbreads and $1.50 off our pancake mix. Stores include:  West Vancouver, Burnaby, Cambie and Robson.

Did you know that Whole Foods Market has a 10% case discount?  It’s true.  See the grocery buyer in your preferred Whole Foods Market store and order a case of any of our products carried by that store and you will receive an additional 10% off at the register. Our products are predominantly in the gluten-free frozen sections of stores and have a great shelf life.  Take advantage of this amazing discount!

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

Toast Tuesday :: Strawberry Balsamic & Cacao Nibs

This toast was such a hit we just had to make sure it was up here on our blog for the record.  Unfortunately, if you don’t live in BC you won’t have access to the delicious and beautifully handcrafted preserves by Le Meadows Pantry.  Genevieve makes “luscious jams, bold marmalades and unruly chutneys and mostardas using old world techniques.” You can view her lovely process unfold on her Instagram.  Be careful not to drool so much you short circuit your keyboard though!

For this toast mix we used her Strawberry & Balsamic preserve, with sliced strawberries, Earth Balance and raw cacao nibs on our The Gluten Free Chef White Bread.  What an amazing combo to start the day, you’ll probably want to repeat at snack time and tea time and bedtime, oh my!  So tasty and full of flavour.  Not to mention that the caffeine in raw cacao nibs give us a subtle burst of ‘go get-em’ along with the sleek, Parisienne ‘je new sais quoi’ of strawberries and balsamic. You may have to trust us on this one if that description made absolutely no sense. Basically, this toast has sass and class and we highly recommend it.

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

Facts About Food Allergy Bullying :: Pink Shirt Day

We absolutely love and adore Michelle Obama and her continual investment in a better life for all children.  What a great motto this is!  But what do you do when there is no place to go?  What happens when you’re being bullied because you have a life threatening food allergy to peanuts and the bully is standing next to you with a peanut butter sandwich as their weapon of choice?

This, unfortunately, is becoming all too common.  Here are some steady facts about the reality of food allergies and food allergy bullying by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE):

–  Food allergies affect 15 million Americans. This includes 1 in 13 children – roughly two in every classroom.  More than 300,000 children have food allergies in Canada.
–  Nearly 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction, such as anaphylaxis.
–  In the U.S., a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes.
–  Consuming even a trace amount of the wrong food can trigger a dangerous reaction. Being touched by an allergen can also cause a reaction.
–  Strict avoidance of problem foods is the only way to prevent a reaction.
–  Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Delays in receiving epinephrine can result in death.
–  According to a recent study, more than one third of children and teens with food allergies (ages 8-17), reported being bullied specifically because of their food allergies – usually by classmates.
–  The bullying frequently included threats with foods.
–  In almost half the cases reported in this study, the children did not report the bullying to their parents.
–  Food allergy bullying is associated with a lower quality of life and distress in both children and their parents.
–  Communication is key: When parents know that their child is being bullied, the child’s quality of life is better.
–  To learn more about food allergy bullying, visit www.foodallergy.org/its-not-a-joke.

In addition, we’ve added a few links here to news stories of food allergy bullying that has taken place specifically in Canada.  Do not be fooled by the differences that we think may exist between US and Canada’s statistics on these issues.  Where there is bullying, there is a problem:
Food allergy bullying affects many children across Canada :: Global News, 2014
Food Allergy Bullying: What you can do :: Allergic Living
Food Allergy Bullying Victims Speak Out Against “Life Threatening” Problem :: CTV News, 2013
Peanut Allergies Lead to Bullying In Schools :: Huffington Post Canada, 2014

Check out this video provided by FARE:

Like many of you out there in Canada today, we are wearing our Pink Shirts today to see help put an end to bullying in all the ways it manifests.  Of course, knowledge is power and one thing our young ones might not understand is the how life threatening a food allergy can be.  The more you and your children know, the safer it can be for children with food allergies and the more #pinkshirtpromise that is committed to today, the safer it is for all children.  We aren’t strangers to being bullied or food allergies.  We are committed to a better future for both!

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

Toast Tuesday :: Orange You Glad We Posted This

It was such a great time at the Gluten Free Expo last month.  Among all the excitement of connecting with new customers, old customers, listening to speakers and trying new products we actually had the chance to connect with some of those wonderful vendors. One of those wonderful vendors in this case, happens to be the lovely ladies of Forte Whole Foods.  I mean what would go better with our pancakes and bread then their delicious chocolate, fruit and date spreads that are nut free?!  Not to mention that they walk the gluten-free path as much as us or all of you, if not more creating their own products beyond the spreads that they sell on their website.
Now normally we’re all about the chocolate.  But after Valentine’s Day we’re a little chocolated out so we shifted gears and decided to put our focus on the Orange Date Spread and we’re are so glad we did!  The lively citrus of this delicious and dare we say, guilt free spread, livened up the morning like a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.  We just loved it on The Gluten Free Chef White Bread!  We surprisingly had to have a few rounds of toast before we could finish breakfast.  And what could be more wonderful than it being naturally sweetened with dates, no artificial sugars or flavours, no nuts so it can follow our little ones to school and made locally in Vancouver by two stellar up and coming mompreneurs!  Their spreads are almost as much a delight as they are.  And vice versa!
We invite you to try something new this week.  This Orange Date spread was a taste of summer that brightened the spritz of spring that is starting in the air.  Even though the weather says there is more snow a-coming, what better foods to be locked up in the house with than locally made foods, made with love.  Who needs Valentines and chocolate.

Orange you glad we said so!

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

Say It With Sandwiches <3

How will you say I love you today?  To your sweetheart, your family, your little ones, your big ones, your friends and of course, yourself?

These little heart sandwiches don’t need to be exclusive with Valentine’s Day.  They are an easy treat for any day of the year when anyone on your Love List deserves a little something extra.

With so many reasons to eat well it’s a real treat when we get to love the food we eat. These heart sandwiches are made with The Gluten Free Chef Bread and Forte Whole Foods nut-free, dairy-free and vegan Blueberry Date & Chocolate Date spreads.  When things are this delicious it’s easy to spread the love!  We simply used a heart shaped cookie cutter that cut two hearts per slice, spread the love of our favourite Forte Whole Foods spreads and done! If you are worried about waste as sometimes we are too, don’t sweat!  We tossed the leftover bread slices back in a bag in the freezer, seal them up and save them for when we want to toast up some croutons for a salad or use them for stuffing in a recipe.

We hope that no matter how you say I love you that your Valentine’s Day was full of fun, love and surprises.

 XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

I Love Staying In With You :: Valentines Day Shopping Made Easy

With Valentines literally around the calendar corner we wanted to share some inspiration for things you can do for the big day.  And what are those things that we love?  Let’s take a peak over at Whole Foods Market and see what you can do in a grocery shop!

Starting with our inspiration, we just love this sweet card seen above by Vancouver designer and stationary maker Valerie Lau.  Designs by Val has sweet and whimsical designs that can say so much with the simplest pics.  With all the snow dumping on us these past few weeks, cozying up on a couch with our sweetheart is a magical idea.  If we could purchase a fire place from Whole Foods Market we’d do that too (if you have a fireplace, they do sell firewood!).  We’ll settle for the TV screen on the fireplace channel, as long as our sweetheart is next to us.

Naturally, a home cooked meal is an essential to a romantic night or morning in.  Whether you say it with our pizza crusts (see last weeks post for an Eggplant, Pistachio, Pomegranate Pizza recipe by Martha Stewart on our gluten-free pizza crusts) or The Gluten Free Chef pancake mix, as seen above and in our last post with pancake hearts for Valentines, our products make up conveniently and you’ll never know they are gluten-free.  You and your meal will be your gluten-free sweethearts dream come true!

Since we are doing our Valentines Day shopping at a grocery store, you can expect that you haven’t seen the last of the food recommendations!  So taking things one step above and beyond we share our love of Local and amazing (and gluten-free) treats that you can add to your romantic menu.
Denman Island Chocolate Hearts – wrapped in the purtiest foils, you’ll probably find these on the way out at the register.  Who could resist finding a chocolate heart on their pillow?

Forte Whole Foods Fruit & Chocolate Spreads – Spread it! Dip it!  Spoon it!  Fill it!  Lick it!  We tell ya, these delicious vegan and nut free spreads have sexy and romantic night in with your sweetheart written all over it!  You can spoon up some Chocolate Espresso spread with strawberries or bring in the Blueberry Date or Orange Date with cheese in crackers.  Regardless of how you choose to Bring it! with these spreads, they surely will not disappoint.
–  1902 Kombucha – Mix things up by serving a 1902 Kombucha like a champagne or sparkling wine or really mix things up by turning these smooth and clean kombucha flavours into a cocktail of their own.  Substitute the Ginger flavour in a Dark and Stormy for the ginger beer or just add a little Rum to the Mojito flavour.

–  Wendel’s True Foods Sweetheart Sugar Cookies – These seasonal, gluten-free Valentines Day cookies from Wendel’s are a perfect treat for your sweetheart of any age!  Whether you are cozying up on the couch to watch a favourite cartoon or your favourite romantic comedy, no Valentine will feel left out with a box of these on hand.
Last but not least, one thing that Whole Foods Market does and only Whole Foods Market does well is their robust selection of Whole Trade Roses at Valentines Day.  What’s wrong with being traditional for Valentines?  Whole Trade® flowers provide premium that goes directly into important community programs for the flower farmworkers so you can feel good about your purchase for many reasons besides the fact that your sweetheart can enjoy them.  There is always a huge selection of colours and the lovely people that work in the store will wrap your flowers for no extra cost.  Every year there is a deal on these flowers so make sure to check in at your closest store to find out the details.

We hope you enjoyed this collection of inspirations and products for Valentines Day as much as we enjoyed putting it together.  We hope you enjoy your day and make your sweethearts gluten-free wishes come true.

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

Say It With Pancakes <3

Whether or not you have a proper sweetheart for Valentines or your sweetheart is actually your child, a you and your dog combo or your best gals, a pancake breakfast with any of them with a sprinkling or icing sugar and love would be a welcome treat and unlikely to break a single heart.
Regardless, Valentines is happening and a special breakfast with your loved ones is one of the many ways to say I love you in 2017.
Our pancake mix is not only gluten-free but vegan as well and if you follow the instructions on the back you’ll find out how to replace the egg and milk.   You can make pancakes that are gluten-free and vegan that taste no different than the pancakes you think you have been missing out on!
Another bonus The Gluten Free Chef pancake mix that we are so proud of, is if you make it without and egg and milk and keep it vegan, you can keep any leftover mix in the fridge for up to 5 days.  This is a special treat for those single moms or breakfasts for 2 when you can’t possibly eat that many pancakes!
To get your heart shaped pancakes you can use a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and filled with batter; a plain plastic squeeze bottle with the tip cut down 1/2 an inch to get the batter flowing quicker or you can use what we use for all our mini pancakes for demo’s and fun stuff, the Original Pancake Pen by Tovolo.  We love this thing.  It make pancake a cinch and then if we don’t use up the batter it is easy to store.
Once you are set, draw out the shape of a heart with batter and then fill the inside with a V of batter.  Cook until it bubbles on the top and is slightly dry around the edge.  About 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Paired with a favourite juice or drink, maybe spice things up with a Kombucha cocktail; a latte or a sensuous blend of Sweet Rose Tulsi Tea from Organic India as pictured above – hearts will surely be found through the tummy this Valentines!

Naturally Gluten-Free :: Edamame Quinoa Salad

Hope you are in the mood for something delicious and nutritious and easy to make because we have the perfect combo for you!

We’ve had this recipe for Edamame Quinoa Salad pinned for a while from Better Homes and Gardens and it turned out to be so delicious, we had to make it twice in one week just to make sure everyone got some!  It was filling, flavourful, vegan and gluten-free.  It made many bellies happy.

Check out the Mini Kumato’s by Sunset Produce we found when we were picking up supplies.  We couldn’t resist the sweet, little brown tomatoes as a bonus perk to our salad. They were on sale!  Have you ever tried a Kumato Tomato?  What did you think?

We definitely need to cook more with quinoa.  It’s so simple and we just love the nutty smell and flavour.  And of course the beauty of a recipe like this is we don’t have to be skilled in the art of gluten-free, we just need to know how to boil and more importantly, the hardest part of all, how to share.

What’s your favourite quinoa recipe?

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

Say It With Pizza <3

Our hearts were aflutter when we spotted this recipe for pizza on Martha Stewart recently under 7 Stay-At-Home Date Ideas that You’ll Love for Valentines.  As delicious and convenient our pizza crusts can be with just some cheese and sauce, there’s nothing more exciting then trying them out with inventive and exotic toppings to see how they pair.  And we assure you, this particular mix pairs very well.
There’s also probably nothing more loving than cooking in the kitchen together.  As much as you may miss the sexiness and playfulness of making a crust together, your gluten-free loved ones will get to spend more time sipping wine or appreciating you for this irresistible meal.
Check back again before Valentines Day and we’ll show you how to Say It With Pancakes. <3

XO,
The Gluten Free Chef

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