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. 

 

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Holy Crap this bread has a ton of fibre!

High fibre and delicious

High fibre and delicious

  I fell in love with Holy Crap© Skinny B cereal a couple of years ago.  Ever since it has been a staple of my diet.  I have it with some coconut milk in the morning, throw some in my yogurt and add it to cookies I make for the kids (shhhh! Don’t tell them).  I love the fibre and find it keeps me regular always a happy place to be.  Here is a list of the benefits of Holy Crap©; non-GMO, organic, gluten free, kosher,  lactose free, sugar free, salt free, nut free, all natural, vegan, raw, very high in fiber, high in iron, source of calcium, source of omega-3 and omega-6, no cooking required.

I also ended up with a ton of apples after a day of apple picking in September which I decided to slice up and dehydrate.  After dehydrating them I put them in the VitaMix© and made an apple granola.

Now what a treat to add some apple granola to my Holy Crap© and toss in my yogurt! Very Yummy!.

So I decided to see what it would taste like if I tossed it in our Yeast Free Bread mix.  Well the result was great tasting bread that is really high in fibre, approximately 5.7g of fibre per slice!

I made a sandwich using chicken salad and it was truly a fantastic tasting sandwich.  The bread has a very faint apple flavour and just a hint of sweetness.  It is very moist and held together nicely in a sandwich.

I think this will be my new favorite bread recipe.  Enjoy!

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Holy Crap/Apple YEAST-FREE BREAD

Makes one loaf of bread

  • 2 tbsp ground Chia seeds or ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil or oil of your choice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 package of Allergic Solution Yeast Free Bread
  • ¼ c chopped dried apple
  • 2 Tbsp Holy Crap Skinny B cereal

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease bread pan.
  2. In a large bowl, add ground Chia/Flax, vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water.
  3. Stir and let sit for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Add  honey and mix well
  5. Add oil and 1 cup of water to bowl and stir until combined.
  6. Add entire package of AS-YFB  and stir until completely combined.
  7. Mix in Holy Crap and Apple
  8. Pour into bread pan and gently shake until evenly distributed.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  10.  Allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes.

*Note, once it has risen (about 10 min in oven) cover with foil so it does not brown too much.  Honey can make the crust very dark

 

Holy Crap Cereal can be purchased from  the Gluten Free Smart Store 

 

 

 

 

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I Am Back: On Cruises and Customer Service.

So I am back from my 2 week honeymoon in Europe.  It is weird saying I was on my honeymoon at my age but that is what it was and I had a fabulous time. Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.14.53 AM

My amazing husband (I am still getting used to calling him my husband) took care of booking our honeymoon and planning every detail of it.  I took care of the wedding and somehow I think he had the much ‘funner’ task but I am grateful.

When he first suggested a cruise I was “Ugh! Seriously??”  You see we did a cruise a couple of years ago with my oldest son and his friend during March Break.  Picture a very large cruise ship, packed with the spring break crowd whose only goal was to see how drunk they could get every night!  It was a nightmare to say the least.  I was grateful it was only a 5 day cruise because after the 3rd day I committed to jumping over the side if it didn’t end soon.  The food was crap, the ship was packed, we spent the days just wondering the ship because these lovely spring breakers would throw their towels over the deck chairs the night before then sleep until noon, wander up to the pool deck and lay in the sun getting drunk the rest of the day, only to leave after the sun went down.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.13.22 AM  I was less than enthused to go on another cruise.  Well I have to say I had the time of my life.  We cruised for 10 days with Regent Seven Seas Cruise line and stopped in 10 ports around the Mediterranean.  The weather was warm and sunny every day, not a drop of rain fell the whole time we were gone.  The best thing about this cruise line was it was an all-inclusive.  They flew us to Rome and put us up in a hotel a couple of days before the actual cruise started.  They had a representative at the hotel that organised a tour of Rome at night and a dinner and they even provided a shuttle to and from the city centre several times a day.  We were then transported to the port where we checked in and got on the ship.  When we got to our suite we were surprised to find a bottle of champagne, flowers and a cake that said Happy Honeymoon.  I was so impressed!  Our suite was incredible, king size bed, a sitting area with a TV, desk, bar and fridge that was stocked with drinks and alcohol, all included in the price. We had a huge walk in closet and a bathroom with a tub and separate shower and more storage than I have at home!  Our room was cleaned twice a day; bed was turned down at night and chocolates left on our pillow.  We had the option of leaving a breakfast card on the door every night requesting what time we wanted our breakfast the next morning.  We fully took advantage of this; every morning!  Did I mention the balcony where you found us most mornings eating our room service meal?

The food was amazing (you can tell by tightness of my jeans on my return).  My husband was convinced the closet was shrinking his clothes!  Every morning I was sent an advanced copy of the menu for the main restaurant.  I got to pick what I wanted and then they made sure it was prepared according to my food allergies.  I really appreciated their attention to my special needs when it came to my diet.  They also provided a ‘Spa’ menu for those who were concerned with fat, salt and sugar intake.  The coffee bar had no sugar added cookies and I could have requested gluten free cookies had I thought I needed yet another treat to fill out my waist line!

As a business owner and someone who used to teach a customer service class, I was so impressed with the staff, they were so friendly, efficient and you felt like they truly appreciated choosing their cruise line.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

If you are thinking of taking a cruise, check out this company.  The price was higher than I thought we should pay but when you look at the fact we never had to open our wallets after we got on the ship it was really a fantastic deal.

Ok so now that the honeymoon is over it is back to reality, worst part of the vacation is I missed all my amazing customers!  So glad to be back and connecting with all of you again.

 

Vito and I

Vito and I

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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

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Vacation, Stress Relief and Happy Times

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By the time you read this I will be somewhere in the Mediterranean enjoying my honeymoon with my new hubby. 

Now I have done this before and got two wonderful sons out of the deal but I never had a wedding nor did I get a honeymoon.  So I am about as giddy as one can get.

Wedding planning is OK in the beginning when you are looking at venues and picking out coordinating linens. Visions of Cinderella in your head and imagining your best girlfriends giggling and pitching in to help.

Insert screeching tires here!  Yeah it is nothing like that when you get down to the wire.  The last month has been a scheduling nightmare with the wedding party, getting my boys school schedule co-ordinated with the wedding schedule and all the little details that I hate organizing.  On top of that add running a household with two teenage boys a dog and a fiancé that just can’t understand why you are in melt down mode because after 13 specialty stores you still can’t find a square silver cake stand that fits the vision in your head!  Oh did I mention running a business and trying to provide the same level of service to your customers.

I soooo need this vacation.  My anxiety level was through the roof with the thought of leaving my business for two weeks.  I convinced myself I was going to Europe to check out all the gluten free options available so I felt better about taking a vacation.  Anyone that owns their business knows that leaving it for an extended period of time knows it is like leaving your baby.

Wish me luck and I guess wish my new hubby the patience to put up with my anxiety and my neurotic thought of “OMG how will things survive without me?” I hope to bring back many memories and be slightly more relaxed than I am right now.  Everyone has asked me to post some pictures so stay tuned.

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Stop the Gluten-free jokes! Please.

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I am thankful for so many things and I try to practice thankfulness everyday. But I have to be honest I can be genuinely thankful for many things and sometimes I get annoyed too. I’m human.  So here it goes…

Why is GF the butt of many jokes?

Caution, angry rant to follow!

Canadian Thanksgiving just finished so I spent the weekend with family and friends surrounded by gluten filled stuffing, cakes and cookies.  Of course I had to hear once again all the jokes about eating gluten free.  “What makes food taste so good?………GLUTEN!”  Ha ha ha ha ha, yeah that was so funny, why don’t you change the record?

20 years ago one of my good friends was lactose intolerant.  We would order pizza but without cheese.  No one ever made him feel bad about it.  No one ever said “what makes cheese taste so good?…..LACTOSE!”  No, that is really not funny, is it?  We have had lactose free milk for as long as I can remember and Lactaid tablets you can pop in your glass of milk to help you digest it. It is a non issue. No one makes fun or jests about it, we just go on about out lives.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?  Well if you ingest lactose you get a lot of GI distress, gas bloating stomach pain, you feel like your intestines are in knots…..hmmmm does this sound familiar?  Pretty much the same symptoms I experience if I eat gluten but yet some people feel they need to make fun at every meal.  Do they lack that much self confidence that they feel the need to make fun of someone’s diet? Perhaps they are just stupid and lack social graces to just live and let live.  Are they so devoid of humour that is all they can find to joke about is a gluten-free diet?

I mean seriously if someone is diabetic would they be saying “you know what makes food so good?….sugar!” What a loser you can’t eat sugar!  Ha ha ha ha sugar can cause you pain and it might kill you but man that is funny and I think I will make joke after joke after joke about it because I am that simple and ignorant.

I am so tired of someone’s diet being the butt of jokes.  I don’t care if it is a choice or a medical need NOT to eat gluten, it is no one’s business but your own.

I didn’t sit there watching people eating stuffing, cookies and cake and comment on how big their gut was getting.  Wow!  Have another cookie and perhaps you can have a triple chin instead of a double chin!  Ha ha you are getting so fat because you shovel gluten filled, sugar filled food into your mouth like someone who hasn’t seen food in years!

No because that is rude and it would hurt someone’s feelings and quite frankly it is none of my damn business what someone eats!

Because Monday was a holiday I had the TV on during the day.  Flipping through the channels I stopped on the Kathy Lee and Hoda show (or whatever it is called).  They had a burger laden with cheese, Kathy Lee took a bite but Hoda declined saying she could not eat it because she was lactose intolerant.  This is the same woman who made fun of people who ate gluten free.  Really Hoda?  It is ok for you to be lactose intolerant but there is something wrong with me because I eat gluten free?  Does that make you a picky eater like apparently people who abstain from gluten are?

Can we please move on from making GF just a great big joke?  You know what is funny?  That camel on the Geico commercial “Hey Mike, Mike, Mike, guess what day it is? Guess what day it is?”  That cracks me up! If you haven’t seen it you should. Funny stuff!

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Savoury Biscuits (Gluten, egg, nut, corn and soy free. Dairy-free optional)

Just in time for  Canadian Thanksgiving!   I made these savory biscuits a couple of ways this week.  They are tasty without cheese but I  also tried adding parmesan cheese to a batch and they were very tasty too.  If oregano is not your favourite herb then try thyme but you can use whatever savoury spices and seasonings you love.

You can also create a dessert biscuit by adding a couple of of tablespoons of coconut sugar and some cinnamon. This would make a  nice base for some fresh berries and whip cream. 

Savoury Biscuits

Savoury Biscuits

Biscuit Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Allergic Solution Pancake/Waffle Mix
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening or coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup Rice Milk
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or seasoning of your choice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbs parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mix together pancake mix and seasonings.
3. Cut in shortening or coconut oil until mix resembles coarse cornmeal.
4. Add rice milk, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms.
5. The dough will be very sticky, drop about 3 tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet.  Dip fingers in water and form into patty about ½ inch thick.
6.  Bake 8-10 minutes until done (keep an eye on them, they’ll burn fast!)

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I’m Celiac – Now What Do I Eat? (Guest Post)

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By Lisa Cantkier (bio below)

From one celiac to another—when it comes to food, I can attest—less really is more. With the recent explosion of gluten-free products hitting store shelves, one thing is certain—the quantity of product selection is growing, however, the nutritional value of our food supply is becoming less and less certain.

For example, when you read ingredient labels, at which I’m sure you’ve become an expert detective, you may notice that many lists are quite long. Also, ingredient names may look unfamiliar to you. That is not a good sign when reading the label of a product you want to consume. Unfamiliar ingredients more often than not equate with additives, preservatives and chemicals that are very likely not good for our overall health. If you have no idea what those ingredients are, chances are you wouldn’t want them in your already fragile gut.

If and when you plan to purchase pre-packaged gluten-free foods, you are far better off to choose products that have ingredient lists that are short, and contain all-natural, healthy ingredients that you are familiar with. Try to avoid processed/refined foods, and foods that are high in sugar and high on the glycemic index. Your gut will thank you.

When cooking and baking fresh and from scratch at home, choose simple recipes made with wholesome, clean whole food ingredients. Choose organic ingredients when possible. Don’t forget your protein and heart healthy fats. Eat nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit, such as kale, broccoli and avocado. Replace rice with quinoa, and choose lean proteins such as fish and poultry. Add super-foods rich in antioxidants such as chia seeds, hemp hearts and flax seeds to cereals, soups and sauces. Use a spiraler to make your own quick noodles from sweet potatoes or zucchini. Bake homemade pizza and lasagna with an eggplant base. Use natural sweeteners such as stevia, coconut sugar and maple syrup to replace refined sugar. Use healthier cooking oils, such as high quality extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil in place of vegetable oils.

When reaching for snacks on-the-go, get your protein in there. Make a quick, all-natural smoothie with added fruit and pure whey protein. Reach for mixed nuts or dried fruit. Slice up those veggies and dip them in fresh hummus or another favorite dip like spinach dip. There are so many natural nut butters on the market today—I love cashew butter for its sweet flavor. Pair it with wholesome, crunchy quinoa crackers. If you can handle dairy, choose low fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt. Try something new. Eat kale! Defrost some edamame. Try those sea vegetables in the produce isle.

Instead of buying what’s in the box, be prepared to think outside the box and experiment with new, healthy foods. Since celiac disease is a malabsorptive disease, every bite matters, and you want those bites to be nutrient dense. You might not fall in love with everything you try, however, you won’t know until you take that bite. Happy, healthy gluten-free eating!

Lisa Cantkier is a lifelong celiac, health writer and editor, and holistic nutrition enthusiast. She is the founder of GlutenFreeFind.com and a co-creator of GlutenFreeSmartStore.com. You can follow Lisa at @LisaCantkier

 

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Apple Blueberry Breakfast Cake (gluten, egg, dairy, nut, soy, corn FREE)

Apple Blueberry Breakfast Cake

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You will need:

  • 1 T oil ( we use olive oil)
  • 2 small macintosh apples [cored but not peeled pureed with water to total 1 1/2 cups liquid]
  • 3T water (or apple juice)
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. dried apple pieces
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg Allergic SolutionVanilla Cake Mix
  • 1c. frozen wild blueberries

 Preparation Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease bottom of a 9” square cake pan.

2. Place oil, apple puree, chia seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried apple and sugar in a large bowl.

3. Using an electric mixer, blend on low speed until sugar is dissolved.**

4. Gradually add entire contents of pouch and mix on medium speed until completely combined and smooth.**

5. Fold in 1 c. blueberries

5. Pour batter into greased cake pan.

6. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes.

7. Allow to cool for approximately 20 minutes.

 

**If electric mixer is not available use a whisk.

This mix also makes 18 cupcakes or 36 mini-cupcakes.

Drizzle a little maple syrup on top before eating a slice. YUM!

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