Menu Planning ,Food Journals and the Canada Food Guide

Along with preparing yummy gluten and dairy free things for my Dee’Lectables business, I have day job.

From Monday to Friday, I  shop for and prepare two healthy snacks and a wholesome nutritious lunch daily for 7 adults and 30-40 little ones.  I’m the cook for a licensed daycare centre.
At the daycare we have two menus;
A two week rotating Warm Weather Menu from end of May- Sept. 30th
and
A  three week rotating Cool Weather Menu for the rest of the year.

The menus were in place when I arrived.

Now that it’s almost time to switch over to the cool weather menu again, I have decided it’s time to mix things up and build a new and improved menu for the centre. Now, because we are a licensed facility, we have rules and guidelines we have to follow for everything, and the menu is not overlooked. So, to the Canada Food Guide I went to find what is recommended for my little charges.

2-5 year-olds need:

4-5 servings of Fruit & Veggies
3-4 servings of Grains
2 servings of Milk and Alternatives
1 serving of Meat and Alternatives

This got me thinking about my own daily food intake. I mean, I think I eat well.
I eat plenty of fruits and veggies and lean meats. I try to stay away from junk food, although I have my vices too. Since going gluten and dairy free, I have been more focused on what my body doesn’t need.That said, it’s been a while since I thought about what my body does need.

Canada’s Food Guide says 19-50 year old females (that’s me!) need:

7-8 servings of Fruit & Veggies
6-7 servings of Grain
2 servings of Milk and Alternatives
2 servings of Meat and Alternatives

Most of us are pretty good at keeping track of what we put in our mouths. For example, I know I had a banana and a large  rice and coconut milk cappuccino for breakfast this morning.  Because of my food issues, I’m really good at keeping track of what I put in my mouth but this time I’m more curious about how much. So,  I’ve decided to keep a Food Journal for a few days.

Day One (That’s today!)

So far I’ve had:

Breakfast
1 med banana
1 extra large cappuccino with 1/2 cup of steamed coconut/rice milk blend

Snack
1/2 cup mixed greens
1/2 c mixed tomatoes, cucumbers & chickpeas,
topped with 1 tsp olive oil and pinch of salt

Lunch
2 cups of chicken &  sausage jambalaya
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 dates
1/2 cup fortified rice milk
1/2 cup fortified almond milk

Fruit & Veg: 3 1/4
Grains: 2
Milk and Alternatives: 1 1/2
Meat and Alternatives: 1 1/2

How do your eating habits measure up?


Check out Canada’s Food Guide to see what you should be eating.

Now, what I am I gonna have for dinner?

….Dee

Gluten and Dairy Free Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy Muffins_CloseUp

I have a real love hate relationship with bananas.

I love the taste and the port-a-blility of bananas. For as long as I can remember, bananas have been a staple in my diet. Back in the days before so many kids were diagnosed with peanut allergies, you could guarantee I’d have a banana in my school lunchbox 2-3 times a week. Usually it was in the form of a peanut butter and banana sandwich but just as often I’d find the fruit (which is actually a berry) as is.

As I entered by teen years and my love for cooking, especially baking, grew, the more I came to love bananas. I mean, who doesn’t love Banana Bread, Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies or Warm Campfire Banana Sundaes? Ever since I bought my first cookbook (D.C.I. Music Department’s Favourite Recipes) I have been on the hunt for the very best banana bread recipe. If you were to look though my cookbook collection, you would definitely find that the pages that have banana flavoured bakery recipes are the most splattered, smudged and well used. I thought I had finally found “The One”. Then I went gluten and dairy free and the search has since resumed.

I think of myself as someone who tries to stay active and I take a lot of pride in eating healthy so I love that bananas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, B6 and Vitamin C.

Bananas promote good digestion and mood balancing. Good for me as I am recovering from intestinal issues and also good because I often take the drug Prednisone which can cause depression as a side effect.

I know, so far this post sounds like a love fest for bananas. So where’s the hate part???

I hate that when the warmer weather finally comes to southern Ontario, my bananas get ripe faster than I can eat them…. I know, it’s not a big reason…but  it made for an interesting opening line.

Anyway, I woke up this morning and realized that I had three bananas that had got to the point of no return and just had to be baked into something. So, my plan for showcasing the fresh Ontario strawberries, now available in my area will have to wait.

I give you Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins Mis En Plas

Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins Mis En Plas

1 ¼ cup all purpose gluten free flour (my blend or your favourite)
¼ cup high protein gluten free flour blend (my blend or more of your favourite)
½  cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½  tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp double acting baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup melted coconut or canola oil
1 egg
¾ cup gluten free oats
¾ cup dairy free chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease or line 18 regular size muffin cups

In small bowl, combine oats and chocolate chips, set aside.
In large bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Whisk to combine.  Add all wet ingredients to dry. Mix well.
Fold in the oat/chocolate mixture.
Fill muffin cups to within one third of the top. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Store in airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month

Fresh Out Of the Oven

Smilin' Mmuffins

Smilin’ Mmuffins

Happy Gluten & Dairy Free Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

To start today’s post off I’d like to apologize for the unexpected hiatus last week. I mentioned in my earlier post “In The Beginning Part 2” that I suffer from sinus polyps. Often I am treated with Prednisone, which is a  (a type of anti inflammatory medication), to shrink the polyps. I can’t take over the counter anti-inflammatory meds (like Aspirin) because they cause my asthma to go into overdrive, so to speak. I also take a regular asthma medication, which contains some corticosteroid too, to prevent attacks. In addition to that, I take a nasal spray to keep my sinus passages open and (you guessed it) that contains a corticosteroid also. Who knew that taking three different medications all containing corticosteroids, at the same time, could cause an adverse reaction?? If you or someone you know requires this type of medication to feel better, please send them to this link at MedlinePlus . The list of medications that contain corticosteroids is long and by no means complete….you may have to read the teeny tiny fine print on the medication to find it, but it’s worth it because the list of symptoms of over use range from simple dry skin to convulsions to psychosis. The last thing my family wants is for me to suffer from that last symptom….I’ve seen waaaay to many episodes of C.S.I, Criminal Minds and Hannibal for their liking. >; )

Of course, now that I know this…I can take greater care of myself. : )

Ok now, let’s move on to more Dee’Lectable topics.

Now that I feel more or less myself, I am all about the baking, the gluten and dairy free baking, that is.
I’ve been playing with recipes like Lemon Tart Cookies (with a lime variation too!), lots of muffins, and I’ve even decided to resume my search for a good GF/DF bread.

Today I want to share a recipe that I’ve been playing with for more than a year. I was inspired by a recipe in the January 2012 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine for Cranberry Quinoa Cookies.  These are meant to be cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable.

Cranberry Quinoa Cookies
yield: Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup fancy molasses
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup gluten free oats, old-fashioned style
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered unsalted almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and molasses in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs and extracts; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in quinoa, oats, cranberries, and almonds. Spoon dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto prepared sheets, spacing 1″ apart. Bake cookies until golden, 12–15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Gluten and dairy free cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable!

Gluten and dairy free cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable!

Fun, Nutritious, Portable Breakfast Style Cookies!

Fun, Nutritious, Portable Breakfast Style Cookies!

Help! I Just Went Gluten & Dairy Free!

My thoughts are with the people of Boston, including the thousands of Canadians who were expected to run the marathon. It it a terrible thing to have happen, anywhere, anytime.

Recently, two of my Facebook pals told me they were going to go gluten and dairy free.
The family of one pal was already dairy-free and this new issue was proving to be a challenge. She mentioned she had been eating quinoa. But just as my family has gotten sick of the ham leftovers from Easter, I got the impression she was getting a bit tired of it. “What else can I eat?” seemed to be the question. The other pal was jumping in with both feet based on the advice of her doctor.

So here’s some basic advice for anyone thinking about or newly transitioning to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle.

  1. Take a deep breath. You can do this.
  2. There are many cultures that don’t use a lot of gluten and dairy. For example, Chinese, Japanese and Thai foods don’t use dairy. In Indian food, swap a bit of coconut milk mixed with lemon or lime for  the yoghurt to marinate chicken. Find a place that sells corn tortillas and go Mexican. Try avocados! There is nothing like homemade guacamole and I use it when I’m craving something savory and creamy instead of cheese. This is a great opportunity to explore food from other cultures. Mix it up!
  3. Go simple. Buy more ingredients and fewer ready-made products. There will be fewer labels to read! Not every dinner needs a starch. Lunch boxes don’t have to have sandwiches, just think of all the amazing things you would find on a fruit and veggie tray or put in a wrap…then skip the wrap!

It’s really easy to focus on all the things one can’t have when one makes a drastic change to their eating habits. I remember getting caught up in “replacing” all the bread and cheeses and butter etc, etc.
I won’t tell you it’s an easy thing to do but it really isn’t the end of the world.

I’m an ex-smoker and when I quit cigarettes (nine years ago!), I used a patch until I was ready to go without. Going gluten and dairy free is much, much easier and even though I’ve never heard of a gluten or dairy “patch” there are  many great products out there to help you along.

Here’s a short list of safe products I try to keep on hand at all times.
Where there is no “brand” name, please read labels carefully!

San-J Brand Gluten Free Tamari Soy Sauce http://www.san-j.com
Mayonnaise
I use Helman’s
Diana’s Brand Marinades (several are dairy and gluten free)
Selection Brand Worcestershire sauce (found at Metro Grocery Stores)
Kozlick’s Brand MustardCheck them out at http://http://www.mustardmaker.com or take a trip to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market in person, to sample all the flavours. They are blow-your-mind amazing and all but two are gluten and dairy free!
Tinkyada Brand Pastas, check them out here http://www.tinkyada.com
King Soba Products, they make yummy noodles and stuff! Check them out at http://www.kingsoba.com
Chex Brand Cerealscheck them out at http://www.chex.com  I mix ‘em up with stuff like nuts, chocolate chips and dried fruit. I snack on them like trail mix.
Rice Noodlesthink wide Pad Thai style noodles and skinny vermicelli noodles to make for an awesome stir fry!
Basmati and brown riceCook it and keep it on hand in the fridge, cold rice is the best for making fried rice!
Canned Coconut Milk– Marinate with it. Cook with it. I even mix it with rice milk and froth it for my morning cappuccino!
Fortified/Enriched Rice Milk-I like other kinds of “mylk” too but I find rice to have a neutral flavour, especially for baking. Buying fortified brands ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Corn Tortilla Chips-check the labels to be sure they’re all corn!
Soft (Fresh) Corn Tortillas
These can sometimes be hard to find  , but they are sooooo good!
Salsa
Humus
Quinoa
(of course) – Treat it like rice and keep it ready in the fridge. I mix a scoop with coconut milk, brown sugar, dried fruit and nuts for a yummy hot cereal.
Ready Made Chicken BrothI like Kirkland Brand, in tetra packs from Costco.

And if you live in the Oshawa/Whitby area of Southern Ontario, Halenda’s Meats, see http://halendas.com has an impressive list of products that are gluten free.

With all these items in my kitchen, I can whip up a snack or full blown meal in no time and never miss what I can’t have.

Hmmm, I’m getting hungry.

The Beginning, Part 3

This is the last of my 3 part story of how I got here. If you have read the previous two chapters, thanks for coming back.

Breathing is even better when you don’t have strange blobs growing in your nose.
Gross eh? Yep, but it’s true.

So…why am I still on a quest? My polyps came back! Three months after my first surgery, I was back on prednisone. I’ve been through several prescriptions to reduce the size of the polyps. Sometimes, it helps but mostly it just slows them down. In May of 2011 I had a second surgery to remove more polyps. Six weeks later, they were back again.  Something had to change.

Now by the time I had my second surgery, I was in a relationship with a wonderful man, who introduced me to a friend who is a nutritionist, specializing in people dealing with food allergies and intolerances. She suggested my sinus issues may be food related. After some education and some convincing, I went gluten and dairy free. I figured I had nothing to loose except my sanity.  Although, some say I never had any to begin with. ; )

At first I thought, this won’t be so bad…I’ll just switch over to gluten free bread and use margarine and I’ll be good…..Man was I wrong! Did you know that gluten and dairy are in practically everything? Well, maybe not everything. If it’s a processed, pre-packaged, ready made food, chances are it’s full of gluten or dairy, or both.

I had already been in consultation with a friend who is also a nutritionist and I did get some advice on what not to eat as well as a few brand names to look for in the grocery store.  However, I’d always loved flipping though my collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines for inspiration, so off I went to Chapters.

The first book that gave me hope of being a happy eater once again was “Cooking for Isaiah”, by Silvana Nardone.  All the recipes in the book looked everyday easy, made my mouth water and best of all each recipe was completely gluten and dairy free. I thought, well if this is what I have to eat, I can do this!

Since then, I’ve been testing and converting of my own recipes along with the several books, blogs, and other resources, full of gluten and dairy free recipes I’ve found to inspire me in the kitchen.

My nose is still a little stuffy, but much, much better these days. I’m still battling polyps and searching for the piece in my puzzle that will keep them from returning. But my asthma is more manageable and I’m much less congested. : )

Now it’s my turn to help….If any of this sounds familiar to you, I’d love to hear from you.

In the up coming posts I’ll be sharing info about my attempts at living a  balanced, healthy, gluten and dairy free lifestyle.