Although I have been finding myself inspired to cook a lot lately, it has primarily been for my little guy who eats like a horse. He wants to feed himself more and more, but I also want to make sure that he is getting enough nutrition and well-balanced meals. I recently discovered Weelicious, which is an amazing website full of great recipes and food ideas, many of which are naturally gluten-free.

I made a variation on this Red Lentil Puree, omitting the salt, using only curry powder for spice and using carrot puree from my freezer that Cole won’t eat on its own and it has already become a quick favourite around our house. I wasn’t sure if he would go for the curry taste, but I need not have worried!

I made some Edamame Hummus, which was delicious and Cole didn’t seem to mind, however when she says one SMALL garlic clove, I should have paid more attention. I used a large one and it turned out a bit more garlicky than intended – I think I might try a half a clove next time.

I made Creamy Rice Pudding, but opted to make it in the rice cooker instead of on the stove. I used 1/2 a cup of coconut milk (I had leftover from a marinade) and 3 cups of rice milk instead of regular milk and added a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon while the rice was cooking. It turned out delicious and tasty, though I think it may still be a bit thick for Cole’s liking. This morning I thinned it out with some mashed bananas and a little bit of formula and Cole happily gobbled it up! I’m also keeping the Leftover Rice Pudding recipe on hand, as I’m sure it will come in useful sometime in the near future.

Other Weelicious Recipes I want to try out soon include:

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It’s hard for me to believe that my son is almost 10 months old, I will have to return to work in less than two months, and as my husband says, everything will change AGAIN. My little man is now grasping at independence, including when it comes to eating. He wants to feed himself, though he does allow me to shovel in spoonfuls of food between bites, provided its something that he likes/wants. Unfortunately, as most parents know it is difficult to find finger foods that my guy can pick up and eat, that are safe for him to eat, that he likes and that are nutritious.

He likes to eat pasta with sauce, meatloaf, chunks of chicken, sweet potato fries, cheese, pears, bananas (sometimes), gluten-free cheerios, mum-mum crackers, avocado, gluten-free toast, rice cakes, natural baked white cheddar cheesies and I’m sure at least a few other things that I can’t think of right now.

Of course I continue to make him baby foods (much thicker and chunkier nowadays) and I have been searching the internet for recipes and ideas that might suit our needs. He really likes the fruited jello (last recipe, scroll all the way down) – I think I’m going to make it with blueberry puree next time instead of plain applesauce. I’ve also tried making meatballs with rice cereal to thicken it (he didn’t care for those too much, but I’m going to try cooking them in pasta sauce (which he loves) and have a feeling that might have better success.

Then for some reason last night I had a thought, MORNING GLORY MUFFINS they have some protein (from the Quinoa), vegetables (zucchini and carrots) and not too much sugar. This morning I got to work and was super happy with the results.

I made a few changes, namely:

  • I used the 1/2 cups of white sugar the recipe called for, but no brown sugar
  • I replaced the 3 eggs with, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup warm water mixed with 2 Tbsp ground flax (allow this to sit for at least 5 minutes before using, it should get goopy)
  • I used the flour mixture in my post (less quinoa than the whole foods recipe)
  • I used cornstarch instead of potato starch (because I was out of potato starch, though I prefer it to cornstarch – either would do)
  • I omitted the walnuts and orange juice
  • I used chopped craisins instead of raisins (I like craisins better and they are related to blueberries which my little guy loves)
  • I used a pear instead of an apple (combined with the applesauce egg replacement these are plenty sweet enough without the extra sugar)

I baked these mini muffins at 355 F for 17 minutes (yield 3.5 dozen mini muffins), until the muffins were golden and a toothpick inserted came out clean. They are delicious and my little guy seemed to like them – now Mom must refrain herself from eating them all herself!

I have a lot of things to write about – a lot of meals I have made and a lot of meals I have eaten.  I have traveled to Asia with minimal stomach issues and I enjoyed a delicious Christmas Dinner, including gluten-free stuffing the entire family enjoyed and gluten-free desserts.

Right now however, time is precious.  My husband is giving our son a bottle and hoping to coerce him back to sleep, but I may be called up at any moment.

This Christmas I was thrilled to recieve Gluten Free Betty Crocker mixes for both cookies and brownies.  Though I know there are many mixes out there (which I rarely use), I am excited to hear that a mainstream company like Betty Crocker is now producing Gluten-Free products.  I have yet to try the mixes (I’ve only had them a day), but when I do I will let you know how they fare.

I always wonder how why these huge companies don’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, they surely have enough money to be able to chance it on a new product in a niche market.  I guess these issues need to hit close to home; right on the side of the box it explains why they decide to try out gluten-free.

Not long ago, two of our co-workers found themselves in the gluten free world. Linc was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and Colleen’s family switched to the diet for her son’s well-being.

Their experiences opened our eyes to the challenges families face following the diet. It’s hard to be different, especially when it affects sweet moments with friends and family. No one wants to miss sharing a birthday cake or see their child have to turn down a homemade cookie from a buddy after a game.

We hope we can help by bringing you these mixes for gluten free desserts that look and taste like the treats you’ve been longing to share. Finally, Betty Crocker® Gluten Free!

-The Betty Crocker Baking Team

My mother-in-law bought me these mixes on a recent trip to the states, and I have yet to seem them here in Canada though I am hopeful they will appear soon.  Anyone else tried them? Or seen them in Canada?

I started writing a post last week, but unfortunately got sidetracked.

I’m away for 3 weeks and will be visiting China, Hong Kong and Thailand. I have been on a similar trip twice before, but its been 12 years since my last trip and I was super excited to go again. I brought my son with me and my parents, grandmother and my aunts and uncles are all with me so it makes international travel with an 8 month infant slightly less daunting.

Eating gluten-free however is still an intimidating thought. Most places in the world are at least somewhat accommodating to a gluten-free diet, with all the sauces Chinese food however, is not. I love Chinese food and have slowly been learning to make my own gf renditions, but I knew if I came on this trip there was definitely going to be unavoidable contamination and likely even some conscious cheating. So far I have pretty much eaten rice, tofu and a little bit of chicken. I thought about cheating at lunch today, there were some apparently delicious dumplings and chow fun (rice noodles with beef and sauce) but we were going on a 3 hour bus ride directly following the meal and without access to a bathroom the thought was short-lived.

I am also armed with digestive enzymes and am taking those before I eat. I had a slightly upset tummy at lunch, but nothing too bothersome and no emergency trips to the bathroom as of yet, so I guess I’m doing ok. Wish me luck!

My little man had his first fever and cold/flu this weekend and its been lurking for a while, so I’ve been busy.  I have some recipes I’m hoping to post soon, but for now I just wanted to talk a little bit about eating out.

When I first went gluten-free I didn’t eat anywhere and I didn’t eat anything.  But slowly that has evolved.  I now have certain meals that I eat at certain restaurants (including the mall food fair) that I know satisfy my hunger and cravings without wrecking havoc on my body.

I first visited Cravings when I still ate gluten and was impressed; the restaurant (which used to be a sandwich deli in another lifetime) had a great atmosphere, helpful servers and delicious food.  Nestled in among old apartment buildings it seemed a rare find.

I went back for my 27th birthday, I was now gluten-free, but noticed that their website mentioned that they were able to accomodate Celiac’s.  When I made the reservation I indicated that I would like to take advantage of their gluten-free options.  When we arrived I was a little dissapointed that no one seemed to know what I was talking about when I mentioned that I had requested gluten-free items, but the situation was quickly remedied.  A woman, I assume was a manager or owner, came to the table and walked me through the menu; she let me know which items were naturally gluten-free and which items could be made gluten-free.  I enjoyed the West Coast Bouillabaisse (“A selection of West coast seafood (salmon, sole, halibut, ma hi ma hi, prawns, shrimps, scallops, and mussel) cooked in a tomato broth flavoured with saffron”) and it was absolutely delicious.

My husband and I went back again this September for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary; our first “date night” since the arrival of our son.  This time when I arrived and asked about gluten-free menu items the server quickly rushed off and brought me back a “Celiac Menu”.  There was an entire page of options and they all sounded delicious; having a specific menu gave me some confidence that the food would not be contaminated that the chefs knew what they were doing.

This time I enjoyed the Roasted Squash Salad (“Roasted squash served warm with spinach leaves, carmalized pecans, and crumbled Feta, drizzled with honey vinaigrette and balsamic reduction”) and rice pasta pesto (rice pasta “and chicken breast strips tossed in fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan”).  The only thing that could have made it better was fresh pasta, but despite being dried pasta it still tasted WAY better than pasta I make at home.  We practically rolled out of the restaurant and into the movie theatre.

All is all, Cravings is a great gem of a restaurant that was able to provide a menu of delicious gluten-free options, a warm atmosphere and helpful service.  We went for an early dinner around 5pm, but by around 6 it was starting to get busy, so you may want to make reservations if you aren’t normally in bed by 9:30pm like I am.

Being a new Mom means that pretty much everything in my life has changed; my world is no longer solely focued on me, and I absolutley love it.  My little man is the centre of my world and I just can’t get enough of him.  Of course there are days where I want to tear my hair out, but those days are few and far between.

As a gluten-free Momma, I have of course been researching, reading and contemplating the introduction of wheat and gluten to my son.  I have spoken to the doctor, I’ve read books and I’ve searched the internet, although my doctor recommended I go gluten-free I have not formally been diagnosed with an allergy to gluten or with Celiac’s, so of course that does complicate things slightly.  All that being said, we have decided to wait until my bubba is a year before introducing any wheat products.

To a non-gluten-free Momma that probably sounds extremley difficult, but for me its totally reasonable.  When its time to have toast, he can have Mom’s potato bread, when its time for pasta he can have rice pasta, when it came to baby cereal we stuck with just rice instead of jumping on the barely and wheat train.  Now that he’s over 6 months however, I was a little worried that perhaps rice cereal for breakfast everyday was getting a little mundane.

So after a little research, (Wholesomebabyfood was very helpful) I decided to introduce some Millet to my little man.  It is a natural source of iron, protien and potassium to name a few.  I discovered (like the other grains) you can make your own cereal by simply grinding millet down and cooking it on the stove.  Since I didn’t have any millet grain on hand, I decided to use millet flour.  The first batch was lumpy to say the least, but after  few attempts I had a pretty good system.

Gluten-Free Baby Millet Cereal

Ingredients:

  • generous cup of water
  • scant 1/4 cup of millet flour
  • fruit puree

Directions:

  • Mix together water and millet flour (this worked best in a shaker for protein shakes or a cup with a lid).
  • Put mixture into a pot and heat over medium-high heat, stirring often with a whisk.
  • Once the mixture becomes hot, reduce heat to low-medium and continue to cook, stirring often for approx 7 minutes until the cereal has thickened and doesn’t taste too grainy.
  • Scoop one portion into a dish for your baby to eat right away and mix in some fruit puree if desired.  My little man loves to eat his cereal with pears!
  • The cereal will thicken as it sits, so if you don’t add fruit, you may need to thin with a little additional water, breast milk or formula once it cools enough for baby to eat.
  • Put extra cereal in a container in the fridge or in ice cube trays to be frozen.  The cereal defrosts and reheats well, however it takes longer to heat back up than fruit puree, so I recommend microwaving the cereal briefly (10-15 seconds) before adding the fruit and reheating to the desired temperature.

My baby loves his millet and pears for breakfast, but I was eager to introduce oats as well, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for wheat-free oats at my local health stores.  I can always get some at Choices, I just haven’t made a trip there in a while.  Just this week I excitedly found some Bob’s Red Mill Wheat-Free Steel Cut Oats and although I’ve never had steel cut oats, I read that since they are less processed, they are actually better for making baby food.

September 09 - 281I also picked up some millet grain, my Mom donated an extra coffee grinder that she had and suddenly I was ready to make a healthy whole grain cereal that both the baby and I could enjoy.  I have a food processor, but the coffee grinder is just so much easier for the small quantities that this cereal calls for.  I found this recipe for a millet and oatmeal cereal (akin to cream of wheat) and happily began to create.  We’ve had millet/oatmeal cereal for breakfast the last three days; the bubba had his with pears and Momma had hers with raspberries, flax and honey.  Mmm, Mmm Good!

GF millet/oatmeal cerealnote: the pear puree is just softening up, I do of course mix it all up for him to enjoy!

As and aside, I’ve found that I like to use 2 cups of water (rather than the 1-3/4 cups the recipes calls for) and that more stirring/whisking is required than the recipe alludes to.  All in all an easy and nutritious breakfast!

Millet Porridge on Foodista
Oatmeal Porridge on Foodista

As I child I though Mabo Tofu was a Japanese dish, why, I’m not exactly sure.  I knew I could get it at Chinese Restaurants, but the sauce you could buy in the stores to make it at home always seemed to look Japanese to me.  Once I went gluten-free, I really wanted this slightly spicy, always delicious, tofu and pork dish.  Of course every bottle and package of sauce that I read contained soya sauce and of course wheat, so I found myself on a mission to find a recipe that I could adapt myself.

During my online searches, I found oodles of recipes, all slightly different AND I discovered that Mabo (or Mapo) tofu is actually a Szechuan dish; given the spice this really is not all that surprising.  I eventually found 2 recipes (about.com and Nook & Pantry) that seemed reasonable and feasible for me to make, and then I worked with both of them to make a recipe that I really enjoy.  I’ve made this quite a few times and tweaked the ingredients each time; I think I finally have it just right, at least for my liking  – feel free to adapt it to your tastes.

Mabo Tofu

This recipe does however call for some ingredients that will require an Asian grocery store and/or a little searching.  First it requires dried and salted black beans and Chili Bean Paste (my research indicated that Broad Bean Chili Bean Paste is the most authentic, but use what you can find); make sure you read the bottles, most of them have soy and wheat.  I have included an ingredient picture for this recipe to help you find these ingredients.

Mabo ingredients

Gluten-Free Mabo Tofu

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch (cornstarch would be ok)
  • 3.5 Tbsp gluten-free Tamari

Ingredients:

  • ~2Tbsp vegetable oil
  • splash of sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped, white and green sections seperated
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tsp salted, dried black beans
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Chili Bean Paste (adapt to your tastes as necessary)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 package Medium Firm tofu cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and set aside for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat oils in a med-high wok, once hot at the white sections of the green onion and the ginger and saute until fragrant.
  • Add the marinated pork to the oil and cook until brown; you will need to use the back of a spoon to push the pork apart into pieces or you will end up with one big lump of ground pork.
  • Stir salt into the meat and allow flavours to mix, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the salted black beans  and use the back of a spoon to mash them slightly to release the flavours and blend with the meat.
  • Add the Chili Paste and mix into the meat.
  • Add the stock, tofu, remaining green onion, garlic and sugar.  Mix well and continue to cook until tofu has softened and taken on the colours of the sauce.  Approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mix the warm water, GF Tamari and cornstarch together (add the cornstarch last).
  • Once the tofu looks ready to eat, add the cornstarch mixture, stir together gently and remove from heat.  This will thicken your sauce and bring everything together (this step is optional).
  • Serve over steaming white rice and enjoy!

Tofu on Foodista