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Gratitude! A Big Thank You to Our Customers and Savings!

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The past few weeks I have seen a lot of gratitude posts on Facebook, courses on gratitude and a general buz around giving back.  I believe we all need to start the day on a positive note no matter how little sleep you got the night before or waking and discovering there is no coffee left and no one went to buy anymore even though they know Mommy is a bear without it! Sometimes gratitude can be a challenge ;)

This got me to thinking; as a company are we grateful every day for what we have?  As a business owner it is really easy to get caught up with all the stuff that goes wrong on a day to day basis.  From the copier being jammed AGAIN to your supplier being out of chick pea flour until next Ash Wednesday; business is hard.  There are so many variables you can’t control but you have to appear as if you have all the balls in the air and it is effortless.  Being a small business with limited staff can be even harder.  That is why I am so grateful for my awesome staff.  They help me to appear brilliant and on top of everything.  From managing our social media to making sure I have not double booked myself with meetings and keeping me on task when my To-do list is a mile long.  They really are the best staff any business can have.

So for the next 21 days Allergic Solution is going to give back to those we are most grateful for, our awesome customers.

Each Monday we will post on our website/web store and social media what we will be giving back to our customers to show our gratitude.

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Gluten Free Musings

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Set up at The Gluten Free Garage

This past weekend I attended the Gluten Free Garage in Toronto organized by Ronnilyn Pustil.  This dynamic lady sure knows how to do an event right and for the right reasons.  It was a fantastic event to showcase local companies from around Toronto. It was also a nice intimate venue that enabled not only the attendees but the vendors to get around and visit all the booths.  As I made my way around to each vendor I was so happy to see the number of companies that were there because they had a personal story about the effects of gluten and they were also providing a much healthier product.

There were also a few companies that had products that were naturally gluten free.  All of these naturally GF products were actually very healthy.  There was a tea company called The Honest Leaf, that had a line of tea blends that specifically support various systems in the body.  A vegan raw line of very healthy salad dressings (yes some salad dressings do have gluten) called Raw FoodzKe-Wa-Za a line of raw, all natural snacks that gives you energy.  The Mad Mexican with gourmet Mexican food from premium, fresh and local ingredients with the bold flavours of Mexico.

Those were just a few of the fabulous products I found.  For more check out The Gluten Free Garage 

Now why am I musing about this.  Way back when I went Gluten Free there were not a lot of choices.  The last 5 years there have been more and more companies jumping on the GF food train.  On one hand I think it is great for us GF Foodies. We have more choices but really how healthy are these choices?  Yes you can buy GF Betty Crocker mixes but they are full of crap I just don’t want to put in my body.  If you do that is cool, we all make choices that meet our needs.

Here is the problem.  If we are healthy individuals with nothing wrong (thinking of my junk food eating teenagers here) you can get away with eating the crappy food without much immediate impact.  If you are Celiac or like me Non-Celiac gluten intolerant then the effects of the crappy food can be felt fairly quickly.  This is not always GI related.  Low energy, achy joints, headaches, skin problems, depression, muscle pain, insomnia etc. can be felt because of a crappy diet.  So many times I hear Celiacs tell me, “I stopped eating gluten but I still feel like crap”.  The old saying “you are what you eat” isn’t just a cute, catchy phrase.

Trust me I am not perfect when it comes to my diet.  I get into ruts when I just don’t care (there is a therapy session in that statement) but I also know how I am going to feel because of it, the one thing I am not is oblivious or in denial about how my diet correlates to how I am feeling.

As a group who eats gluten free because of a medical need NOT a fashionable, trendy way to eat we need to start paying attention to what we eat and the companies providing us with these foods.  The small companies I discovered at the show this past weekend are concerned with your health and have put their blood, sweat and tears into their business because they are concerned.  Trust me creating a healthy product, throwing your life savings into it and working harder than you could ever imagine is not easy.  But like me the owners of these companies had a vision of changing the way we eat and providing a healthy option to the mass produced chemical laden food on the market.

Will Betty Crocker ever go under?  Probably not but every day small mom and pop companies that bring us healthier options go under because they just can’t compete with the big guys.  Think Walmart vs the small family run stores that have gone out of business once Walmart moves in.

So what am I trying to say?  When you can, support these smaller companies whose ingredient list you can pronounce and get through without a chemical engineering degree.  Recognize that the reason their products are more expensive than the mass produced stuff is not because they are greedy and just want to make money.  It is because the natural healthy food ingredients are more expensive.  It  is because they can’t order large quantities of  packaging  and get a price break. It is because they manufacture on a small scale and pay a premium price  because if it. But what they offer is a product that is healthy and convenient for you, that was created with you in mind. It was created to solve a problem they recognized in the food market and then bring that solution to you. I thank these small companies everyday because they provide me with amazing products.

Every purchase I made from these companies this past weekend made me happy because I knew I was buying from an entrepreneur that had the same vision I did 4 years ago. 

 

Raisin Cinnamon Spice Cookies (Gluten, egg, dairy, nut, soy and corn FREE)

Raisin Cinnamon Spice Cookies
Created by Lisa Cantkier (bio below)

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When I think of Fall, I think sugar and spice, and everything nice! I love the look of Fall leaf colours in Ontario, particularly the pretty, jeweled shades of brown and red. Spices of those colours create the perfect addition of taste and scent when taking in those sights. The flavour of sweet cinnamon, fused into a soft, chewy and moist cookie with nutritional benefits is my kind of cookie for this season, or any season!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon (ground)
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup hemp milk (recipe will work with any type of milk)
1 – 334g package of Allergic Solution™ Pancake & Waffle Mix

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine apple cider, raisins, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, oil, vanilla extract, and hemp milk in a large mixing bowl.
3. Combine and mix ingredients well until sugar is dissolved.
4. Gradually add Pancake & Waffle Mix, and mix well with other ingredients until completely combined and your mixture looks like cookie dough.
5. Spoon 1 teaspoon of dough and roll into small balls; place on parchment paper lined cookie tray, spacing each cookie ball approximately 5 cm apart.
6. Repeat step 5 until all the dough is used.
7. With a fork, flatten each cookie ball to make each cookie about 1 cm thick.
8. Put cookie tray in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
9. Allow cookies to cool completely.

Makes 24 – 36 cookies

Lisa Cantkier is a lifelong celiac, health writer, and holistic nutrition enthusiast. She is the founder of Gluten Free Find and a co-creator of Gluten Free Smart Store. You can follow Lisa at @LisaCantkier

Yahoooo! Yipeeeee! Back to School.

Back to School

Back to School

  I have to say back to school is truly the happiest time of the year. Beats out Christmas and my birthday.  Not only will there be fewer dishes stacked in the sink from my boys eating non-stop all day (I don’t own a dishwasher!!) but the routine will be back and the rhythm of life will return.

Now my guys are not little, they are men, one is starting university and one is going into grade 12 so they are pretty much self sufficient (not counting laundry but that is my issue not theirs).  I don’t have to worry about lunches or shopping for back to school stuff, they are looking after those things themselves. The days of slogging through the mall buying running shoes, new uniforms and enough school supplies to outfit a small school in Africa are over.  It is a bit bitter sweet for me, well more sweet than bitter.  I will miss the company during the day in my home office.  Umm ok by company I mean one boy running in asking to use my truck, another complaining we are out of peanut butter.  I will miss my guinea pigs when I make a new recipe or being able to text one of them with ‘can you make mom a cup of tea?’ then having a nice hot steaming cup of tea plunked on my desk…..ahhhh.

I still remember the first day of school for my oldest.  I walked him to school holding tightly to his little hand, he clutched his Spiderman lunch box hardly able to contain his excitement.  As we got closer to the school I found it hard to fight back the tears.  My little boy was a big boy now was going to be away from me with strangers all morning!  We got to the gate of the playground and the tears were falling like rain.  Mike looked up at me and said “mommy why are you sad?”  I said because I am going to miss you so much.  He looked up at me with his big green eyes all astonished “It ok mommy, I am not going to miss you at all!” He ran off to meet his new friends while mommy stood at the gate crying like a baby.

That seemed like yesterday but today he was off for his first year of university with all the confidence in the world.  Who knows where he is heading but where ever it is I have the confidence I raised a great kid with a good head on his shoulders.  Now it is time to turn my attention back to me.  It has been 19 years since I have thought about me and my life without kids.  My youngest will be off next year for the next chapter of his life and it is time Mom thinks of the next chapter of hers.

This summer I decided it was time for Mom to start to take care of Mom.  I started being really conscience of my diet and for me that meant to eat on a regular basis and take the time to prepare nutritious meals for myself all day not just at dinner when the rest of the family was there.  I started committing to exercising every day.  I actually put it in my daily schedule.  My dog and I hit the road every morning for a 5km walk and I do strength training at least 3 days a week.  I feel better than I have in a very long time.

As moms we tend to put off looking after ourselves because kids are just so darn needy! We make sure the kids are fed nutritious foods, they are in all the appropriate activities, they have clothes to wear to school, their homework is done and we ferry them to and from all the places kids need to go.  In all of that we lose ourselves a little. This is just a reminder not to forget yourself in the daily grind, commit to doing one little thing for yourself every day, especially during this back to school time when things get a bit harried with all the new stuff the kids have going on and all the old stuff they are starting again.

Here’s to a happy healthy back to school to all the kiddies out there and to all the moms, dads and guardians it is ok to celebrate just a little today for the joys of a quiet house….for a few hours anyways!

 

 

Going Gluten-free is Often Not Enough!

17463_wpm_lowresRecently I had a conversation with a gentleman that has very unstable type 2 diabetes.  Unstable because as soon as he deviates from his very strict diet he becomes either hypo or hyper glycemic.

He shared with me that 40 of his 58 years he ate like crap.  He left home at 18, his mother only cooked from scratch and many things she grew herself including their meat.  When he left home for university he survived on junk food and fast food.  When he got married his wife loved to bake and they ate sweets every night.  Both he and his wife were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in their late 40’s.  They were both on medication and ‘cheated’ quite often.  Within 5 years they were both on insulin and his wife died of complication from diabetes 3 years ago.  After his wife died he decided food was just not worth his health.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well for me it really hit home because having food allergies/sensitivities I moan and complain about not being able to eat this and that.  I meet many celiacs/people with food allergies and sensitivities that just want food that tastes good and they really are not concerned about the nutrition end of things.

Here is my take on it:  For years I worked with families of autistic kids to help them heal their kid’s guts.  For most children with autism it meant getting them off gluten, dairy, sugar and yeast, cleaning up the GI so they can heal.  Most autistic kids have leaky gut syndrome (small holes in their GI that food etc. can get through wreaking havoc in the system).  Basically these kids eat an anti-inflammatory diet to calm things down enough so they can heal.   Celiacs have a similar problem.  The GI is compromised, there is a lot of inflammation, nutrients are not absorbed and their whole system suffers.

Unfortunately just getting off gluten is not always enough.  It may be for a few years but the one thing I hear over and over again is eventually they start feeling unwell again.  Not always GI related, it could be joint pain, chronic migraines, skin problems, thyroid disease, type 2 diabetes etc.

When the GI tract is compromised it is imperative that we eat a good clean diet so we can fully heal.  Does that mean we can never have a ‘treat’?  No but we can’t be eating ‘crap’ every day.  Garbage in, garbage out! We truly are what we eat.  High inflammatory foods, high glycemic foods cannot be eaten every day or our health will suffer.  Steer clear of products that are high in sugar (especially refined sugars and artificial sweetners), high glycemic carbs (rice, corn and potato starches), artificial colours, flavours and additives, unhealthy fats and low fibre ingredients.

I like the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time, eat healthy foods (vegetables, fruit, lean meats, high fibre grains and healthy fats) and 20% of the time we eat the crappy stuff we all love so much.  Gluten free does not mean healthy.  If you are experiencing health challenges after getting off gluten take a serious and honest look at the foods you are consuming and start making some small choices….food really is not worth your health!

 

Are you Scared to go Gluten-free Dairy-free?

This is a guest post Dr. Chanderbhan, ND. We asked for her perspective when someone is trying to change their diet to remove allergens like gluten or dairy.

Dr. Chanderbahn

Dr. Chanderbhan

In clinic, after I have gone though a patient’s history or food sensitivity blood results and I have to deliver the news that they will have to eliminate certain foods for a period of time, I am often met with concerned expressions on their face. Understandably so, as I can remember 6 years ago when I was told that I would have to be both gluten and dairy free in order to feel better.

Prior to this realization, I lived a life of chronic constipation (i.e. I was only able to have 1 or 2 unsatisfactory bowel movements a week), chronically fatigued, a pathetic immune system (I would be laid up in bed 1-2 days a month from a cold, for several months out of the year), dealt with monthly reappearances of painful canker sores, uncomfortable bloating, and weight gain despite practically living at the gym.

I was relieved to learn that the source of all my woes was mainly due gluten and dairy, but I was fearful of the major upheaval I would have to undertake to my diet. Six years ago, if you walked into a restaurant and asked for gluten free options, you would be met with a quizzical look on the servers face. Now, the options for dining out and navigating through the grocery store have become easier.

In my world, living gluten and dairy free means replacing previous simple carbohydrates with green leafy vegetables/ancient grains/seeds and getting creative with meals to incorporate clean and lean protein. Below, I’ve listed some snack ideas that satisfy the cravings and keep you feeling satiated:

  • If craving crunchy & salty, 1-2 cups of cut up veggies (if you are lazy like me, I stick to the pre-cut vegetables you can get at most grocery stores) and dip them in hummus (most brands are naturally gf/df but always read the ingredients).
  • Sweet tooth? A cup of mixed berries with 1tbl of sprinkled chia seeds for added fiber and protein does the trick. Alternatively, slice one apple and dip in almond butter (nut-free alternative Sunbutter).
  • No time for a complicated lunch? Toast 2 slices of gluten/dairy free toast, spread almond butter or Sunbutter on one side & your favourite jam on the other slice. Sprinkle 1tbl of chia seeds & 1 tbl hemp hearts onto the slice which has the nut/seed butter. Combine the two slices to create a “superfood nutbutter and jam sandwich.” Pair with a mixed green salad.
  • Need a quick side to accompany your dinner? Empty one can of drained & rinsed chickpeas into a bowl. Add chopped garlic, onions, a handful of chopped cilantro or parsley, 1 chopped sweet pepper, a dash of salt/pepper/cinnamon and cumin to taste. Finally, drizzle 2 tbl of olive oil & mix. Can be served cold or warm.

If you want to know if there is something in your diet that may be contributing to a health concern you’ve been battling, you have several options. A naturopathic doctor can help you figure out which is your best option (i.e. blood tests vs elimination diet). If you suspect that only gluten may be the culprit, there is a quick affordable in-office test (takes approximately 10mins to get results) that is approved by Health Canada. If the test comes back positive, it is confirmation that you likely have celiac disease (it does not test for gluten sensitivity). A follow-up small intestine biopsy will be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

To learn more about food sensitivities, feel free to contact Dr. Chanderbhan, ND at 416-289-3930 to book a no charge 15 minute consultation. 

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She is located at: CBI Health Group Scarborough  1457 McCowan Rd, #218 Toronto, ON M1S 5K7

 

 

Not all Gluten-free Products are Created Equal… AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE!

Switching to a gluten-free diet may seem like the biggest challenge in the world at first, but when you become informed, you realize it isn’t that difficult. Use these tips to help create your healthy diet.

What is a healthy diet?

  • A healthy diet is one based on wholesome foods:  These foods provide your body with the nutrients it needs to carry on its functions like thinking, fighting infections, and repairing tissues.
  • High-quality nutrient-dense whole foods-fresh vegetables, fruit, beans/legumes, good quality fat and protein, and whole grains. These foods need to be prepared in a healthy way and you need to eat these foods in the right quantity in order to ensure that you are optimally nourished and nutritionally balanced.  This is the secret to achieving optimal health.

What about gluten-free prepared foods?

There is a wide range of convenient gluten-free foods to choose from, and there are more and more gluten-free products hitting the shelves every week. How do you make a healthy choice?
 
When you are shopping for gluten-free foods  i.e., breads, bread mixes, snack foods, etc. look for:

 

Choose products that register lower on the glycemic index, i.e., foods made with beans flours, don’t cause your blood sugar to rise quickly.  Bean-based foods are also less likely to cause a reaction and are a better choice than foods made with rice flours and corn and potato starches, which are higher on the glycemic index and may produce allergic/sensitivity reactions in some individuals.

 

  • The ingredient list is short and does not have unhealthy additives

When searching for gluten-free processed products, it is important to understand that the quality of the ingredients contained in the product is paramount.   In fact, the quality of the ingredients could make or break you, and mean the difference between staying healthy and getting sick.  This is because not all GF products are created equal.  Some GF foods are made with disease-creating sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, additives, etc., and the over-consumption of these foods is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Also keep in mind that you should eat the recommended serving size and to eat these foods in moderation.

The bottom line is … you can buy gluten-free processed products, you do deserve to treat yourself with gluten-free goodies, and you can buy gluten-free foods that make your life a little easier, … but the caveat is, you must look for products that contain good-quality ingredients that promote good health.  Remember, you are actually made up of what you eat, so you have to be very careful what you put into your body!

Brenda Ruddy-Anderson is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist whose passion is to help people make proactive dietary and lifestyle changes so they can live the healthiest lives possible.  You can contact Brenda at nutritionfirstweb.com or 647-273-6004

Breakfast Without Gluten? You bet! -Article and recipes by Sarah Maughan

 

Breakfast FREE of gluten, dairy, corn, yeast, sugar, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and soy…What the heck is left?
The kids are screaming about going to school and you’re bummed about heading to work. Not only do you have to deal with the demands of your own life, the kids now have after school and weekend activities and somehow, you have to feed them in between all the craziness. Organization IS possible, and it IS possible to make healthy breakfasts they enjoy. Keep them motivated, energetic, happy and healthy with these breakfasts and they aren’t too time consuming for you! Quick on-the-go breakfasts, which often aren’t easy to think about when you’re talking about food allergies, are a snap with these ideas. Often the go-to food choice is some quick allergen-full cereal or a restaurant drive-through which is often, not allergy safe. You also don’t want to fall into the “allergy safe but nutrient deficient junk yard”, Foods like convenience breads and cereals often have refined gluten-free flours and loads of artificial ingredients. You want to look for baked good products that use high protein and fiber rich flours such as sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and bean flours – like the flours that Allergic Solution uses.

Whole foods that are free of those allergens:

* Fruit – All fresh, dried or frozen fruits
* Seeds – sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (and their butters)
* Grains – brown rice, quinoa, millet, teff, sorghum, buckwheat (and their flours)
* Legumes – all beans and lentils (and their flours)
* Healthy Fats – avocado, extra virgin olive oil, olives
* Protein – chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, wild game meats
* Milk Alternatives – rice and hemp milk (check ingredients)
Breakfast Ideas

1.Suzie’s brown rice cakes with sunflower seed butter and mashed banana or dried dates with a small glass of a Green Smoothie**

2.Mexican Breakfast sandwich – Allergic Solution Yeast Free Bread Mix* with Nothin but Flava Black Bean Dip** and sliced avocado

3.Smoothie – 1 cup frozen mango, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/4 avocado, water or 1 cup unsweetened milk alternative (rice or hemp – check ingredients), 2 dates, optional small amount of rice protein powder if your child needs it

4.Waffle PB&J sandwich* – Allergic Solution Pancake and Waffle Mix – sunflower seed butter, raspberry sauce**

5.Crazy Granola** with milk alternative (rice or hemp – check ingredients) and fresh fruit

Kids (and parents) with allergies deserve and need nutrition too! Don’t just “replace” old foods with “fake foods”, replace them with real foods! Get your kids involved, even if it means dirty hands – fun with food equals satisfaction and understanding of food

Quick Tips

*Make yeast free bread in advance on weekends
*Make waffles and freeze them to put in the toaster when you need them *Granola can be made in advance and stored

Green Smoothie

1/2 banana
1 cup frozen mango Handful of spinach Water or milk alternative 2 dates

Crazy Granola

Free of nuts, gluten, soy, dairy, corn, yeast and eggs

2 cups quinoa flakes
1/3 cup Kasha (toasted buckwheat kernels)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped
1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)
1/4 cup buckwheat honey
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup flaked coconut (or more raisins, or raw cocoa nibs)
1.Preheat oven to 350F
2. Chop the pumpkin seeds so they are a bit smaller
3. Soak the chia in water in a small bowl and let sit while you prep the other ingredients 4. Combine quinoa flakes, kasha, pumpkin seeds, flax, cinnamon, oil, and honey – then add the soaked chia mixture once it has thickened
5. Put granola on a baking pan (optional parchment paper to prevent sticking and ease clean up) and bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The granola should feel crunchy and not wet when it is done.
6. Stir in flaked coconut and raisins and store, or eat right away!

Nothin’ but Beans n’ Flava – Black Bean Dip

Ingredients
·  1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
·  2 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
·  1 tbsp fresh salsa, medium (Neil Brother’s Organic)
·  1/2 teaspoon salt
·  1/2 tsp paprika
·  1/2 tsp cumin
·  1/2 tsp coriander
·  Pinch cayenne pepper
Directions
1. Drain and rinse beans
2.Combine everything into a food processor and blend

Raspberry Sauce

Frozen Raspberries, defrosted Maple syrup, or sweetener of choice
Defrost frozen raspberries and keep juice, add sweetener of choice until desired flavour is reached

Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist in Toronto, ON and is one of few Nutritionists in Canada who is also Board Certified in Practical Holistic Nutrition™ http://www.sarahmaughan.ca/