Sunday, December 11, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday: January 4th, 2012

Hey guess what... it's the very first edition of What I Ate Wednesday 2012! Welcome back!

Since we returned home from our nearly two week adventure over Christmas, I've been on a driven mission to consume the mass amounts of chocolate that I received over the holidays. Mr.C usually would assist me with the ominous task, however he can no longer tolerate hardly any cows dairy in his diet, so I'm on my own this year. Thus, breakfast:

Okay, here's real breakfast:

Crumbled My Favorite Granola Bar with Almond milk

We spent this afternoon taking down the Christmas decorations including the tree. This also required festive snacks along the way:

It wasn't long until dinner was calling my name. Cream of Mushroom soup was on the menu for today, using up some of the dried mushroom medley we purchased from Costco a few months ago.

2 cups dried mushrooms, rehydrated as per directions reserving liquid, chopped to preference
1 white onion, chopped
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 can reserved mushroom liquid
1/2 tsp gluten free & vegan worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 tsp corn starch to thicken if necessary

Saute onion in 1 tbsp coconut oil or other fat of choice.
Add remaining ingredients.
If needed, mix cornstarch with a bit of cold water before adding to the soup to thicken to your liking.
Puree some or all of the soup if desired.
Makes 4 cups.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Week's Worth of Plastic: Week 38

Whew it's been a busy week! Pair using up the last of stuff in anticipation for our "12 Days of Christmas" adventure with baking my little heart out & that results in the following:

1. Daiya mozza bag
2. itunes giftcard
3. 2 placards from cream cheese packages
4. Baking mix bag (incl. yeast packet)
5. Toothpaste tube
6. Bacon package
7. Beads from earrings modified instead of tossed
8. Garbage bag for the week
9. Duck fat container
10. Small candy wrappers
11. Bread bag
12. Pasta bag
13. Cheese wrapper
14. Spice bottle
15. Protein powder tub
16. Stickers on fruit
17. Lid & seal from (glass) bottle of liquid calcium
18. Emergen-C packets
19. Price tag loop from new (non-plastic) laundry hamper
20. Wrapping from card envelopes
21. Wrapping from rubber stamps & ink pads
22. Marshmallow bag
23. Support tube from daisy in bouquet of flowers
24. Cream cheese container from ages ago

Here's our (Kicked The) Bucket List:
Hair Conditioner, Sour Cream, Beverage Containers, Olive Oil, Shampoo, Packaged Mushrooms, Plastic Toothbrushes, Coconut Milk (packaged in plastic), Processed/Prepared Foodstuffs (ie dumpkings, perogies, spring rolls, tortellini etc.), Packaged Fish, Annie Chun's Seaweed Snacks, Tubed Polenta, Jell-o Cups, Avocado oil (in plastic), Ziploc bags (new), Plastic coated picture hanging wire, Alfalfa sprouts, Packaged fudge, Gnocchi, Baking powder, Replacement laptop cord (hopefully!), Bagged frozen veggies, Individually wrapped candy, Peanut Butter (in plastic jars), Cooking spray, Spices packaged in plastic, Pre-packaged lunch meat, Plastic salad dressing bottles, Instant noodles, Prepackaged granola bars, Plastic unrefillable spice grinders, Coconut milk fudgesicles, Dairy Queen, Citrus in bags, RealLime & RealLemon juice, Honey Bunny ketchup or their other sauces (unless their packaging changes), Bean sprouts (unless sold bulk), Starbucks (unless in a travel mug)


This week we're kicking cream cheese out of our house. Mr.C can't tolerate cow's dairy (I would love to see more goats dairy products!) and I don't do particularly well on it either, so this is really a no-brainer. Soy's not welcome around here either (sorry tofutti). Mysteriously this week we had 2 entries on the list that were cream cheese! One was from some Christmas baking I did, and the other has been in the fridge for probably a few months. I didn't look inside.

In other news, we've officially kicked off the "One-Week-Til'-We-Leave-Better-Eat-Everything-In-The-House-Extravaganza". The fridge is pretty bare already... We nearly had "taco's" for dinner last night that would have consisted only of:

corn tortillas
canned refried beans
sliced black olives

Fortunately for everyone involved we did a grocery store trip first. And yes, they were quite good thankyouverymuch! Just you wait til' What I Ate Wednesday... it's sure to be interesting!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eating Out in Prince George: Part 1

With the holidays coming up quickly, many of you (like us) may be traveling to see family. We're gone for 12 days over Christmas (how cliche...) and will be eating out a LOT during that time. I know that it can be difficult to try to plan meals in a city that you're maybe unfamiliar with, and with allergies to contend with to boot. I've compiled a list of restaurants here in Prince George where my gluten free needs have been addressed. Our experiences have varied greatly between the different locations (and dining occasions) but overall most restaurants have been very accommodating! Here are the details:

Boston Pizza: While definitely not exclusive to PG, BP's is my pizza fix spot! With Kinnikinnick crusts, you can customize your pizza up to 4 toppings (they even mark which ones are & aren't gf on the menu) plus cheese. Also, when ordering wings you can opt for no breading & oven baked rather than fried. I thought I was never going to be able to have wings outside my home again (plus they deliver!) As this is a national chain, the menu does vary by location, so always double check. They also have a few more menu items such as the cajun rice bowl, but nothing spectacular- I always get pizza & wings ;)

UPDATE: March 2012 
UPDATE: January 2013 BP's now has gf pasta as well, though many of their pasta dishes & sauces are not gf.

Crave: There aren't too many restaurants out there with a gluten free symbol (next to the vegetarian symbol) on the menu, especially in a place like PG. Crave, however is one of those places (along with a lactose free symbol!). An impromptu Monday night dinner for two led us to try something new after our first choice was strangely not open (despite what the hours listed on the door indicated). Located in the Treasure Cove Hotel, Crave did not disappoint. Our server was very well educated on the options facing a couple with gluten, dairy & soy allergies and had no issues double checking with the kitchen on several items.

Their calamari is dusted with rice flour, but they do fry their taco shells which contain some wheat in their deep fryer. If you're not very sensitive this may be a great option for you. We chose the mango prawn tower (not dairy free, crostini's on the side) as an appetizer, which I don't think I would have again, but their carpaccio was fantastic (no crostini's). Their mixed greens salad was one of the better ones I've had. Mr.C quite enjoys their Shepard's Pie. I jumped all over the most fantastic gluten free chocolate mousse cake. It's probably the best gf dessert I've had to date. Our new favorite place for dinner! Also awesome? Nineteen different Caesars on the menu along with a wide selection of mojito's, bellini's, martini's, beer, scotch....

Update: They have since gone out of business (sadface) and been replaced with a chain restaurant.

Earls: Also not exclusive to PG by any stretch, Earls has a funny way of approaching gluten free. Their "Gluten Aware Menu" has the oh-so predictable steak, salmon & plain chicken options in addition to their chicken tacos which I feel leave much to be desired. I have gotten sick from the tacos before, as they are grilled on the same flat top as their garlic bread. I highly recommend the summertime "WestCoast Prawn Salad" or "Spinach Berry Salad" & the standby "Sante Fe Salad" without the tortillas (cross contamination in the deep fryer). Many of their standard menu items are gluten free and yet not listed on their GF menu such as Ribs, Cajun Chicken & Ribs combo, Cajun Chicken Entree, Jeera Curry (without naan), Mediterranean Linguine (on Jasmine Rice), Spicy Seafood Linguine (on rice, no breadcrumbs). Beware however that the brown rice does contain soy sauce, whereas the jasmine rice does not. All sandwiches & burgers are okay without the ciabatta or bun (no onion rings on the bronx burger) with a side mixed green salad. The ranch, or "parm dip" is not safe either, nor are most of their soups (except the tuscan white bean, cream of tomato & tortilla soup- but always double check as recipes could change). The only dessert choice is straight up ice cream with sauce of your choice (without the candy snap basket) or a milkshake if your location offers them.

Update: The Jeera sauce is no longer gluten free, the tomato soup is being made with chicken stock again (contains gluten) and the bbq sauce on the ribs (not available without) does contain gluten as well.
Hummus Brothers: With origins in the catering business, Hummus Brothers opened up in downtown PG last year with fantastic decor and an even better tapas menu. Earlier this year they began offering Sunday brunch with a stellar menu. As with most brunch spots, the only gf choices on the menu are centered around eggs, accompanied with fruit. For those not on a gluten free diet, seriously consider one of their french toast offerings- they look amazing!

For lunch one of their salads are likely your best choice. The Proscuitto Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp are phenomenal as are their soups (which change regularly- but I have yet to try one I didn't love!) Every time we've gone in, the staff has been very knowledgeable about the ingredients and more than happy to double check with the kitchen.

As of December 2011, they have gluten free pasta!

Keg: After nearly two years of closure, PG's Keg location is scheduled to be open in February! The Keg is somewhere normally reserved for dinner with Mr.C's dad & brother as we all know what we can eat with a variety of allergies between us (gluten, dairy, soy, shellfish, eggs, nuts...) A giant hunk of meat is safe for all three of us... Mr.C & I went to a location in Calgary this summer for a light dinner and shared two orders of Bacon Wrapped Scallops, a Shrimp cocktail (with melted butter for me) and a Mixed Greens Salad. As a large chain restaurant, the servers are well versed & trained in allergy awareness. Last Christmas our server actually sat down with me (after telling her I worked in the industry) and their allergy book to go over my options.

Moxies: In my experience (I worked there for 2 years, several years back) this Calgary based chain has always been exceptional as far as allergies go. If you request any dish without something on it they should be asking you if it is an allergy. Should the answer be yes, a manager will handle the rest including bringing your food to the table. The vindaloo is my favorite dish, however the beef comes in a marinade containing gluten, and must be replaced with chicken for this dish (also without naan bread). I have had the Mayan Chicken Salad, but wouldn't order it again, but the Kitsilano Sandwich (without the bread) is a favorite of mine. Moxies also offers brunch on Sundays, but your choices are limited to egg based dishes (not that there's anything wrong with eggs!) I've been told that the Chocolate Espresso Mousse (without the biscotti) is the token gf dessert option, but I have yet to indulge.

Sendo Sushi: Our favorite sushi place in PG! While we have yet to try anywhere else, this little sushi joint was recommended to us by the family who owns our house before they moved out (the dad is Celiac!) and we love it. I think the best part is being able to order a California roll made with real crab (imitation crabmeat is not gluten free). This is also where we buy our gluten free soy sauce from. Generally by the time we get around to coming up here for dinner, we need soy sauce for the house anyways, so I just crack a bottle to use with my sushi then take it home!

Thanh Vu: The closest thing we've found to the type of Vietnamese food that we became accustomed to in Calgary & Edmonton. I tend to have a curry dish when we go to this restaurant, but tasty none the less. Thanh Vu has a copy of their menu with gluten free dishes highlighted along with any changes that may need to be made to dishes (substitute rice for noodles etc) in order to accommodate a gluten allergy. In my experience, most restaurants employing staff whose first language is not English can cause communication problems. Which when dealing with an allergy is kind of a big deal. The staff at Thanh Vu is very clear on what "we" can & cannot have off of the menu.

Twisted Cork: I went to the Twisted Cork for dinner for the second time recently and have nothing but good things to report. Both appetizer & entree I chose (Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken) were checked & confirmed to be gluten free. Their online menu is not inclusive of all of the choices listed on the menu in the restaurant, but it was a good place to start looking before going for dinner. On my most recent visit, our server mentioned to me that a staff members son was Celiac, so all of the staff have a good handle on what is available for someone who cannot tolerate wheat or gluten. Somewhere we will go again for a nice dinner out.

Veggie Q Cafe: This one was a toughie... I had no idea that the "bubbles" in a bubble tea contained gluten... one learns something new every day! Two things on this particular day however... it seems that some tofu is also made with wheat protein (Mr.C has a soy allergy, so we generally avoid it). So the veggie protein at the vegetarian place is out too. Go figure. Not a lot of options as you likely suspect. 3 soups (with no tofu or "veggie ham") opting for the mung bean or rice noodles instead of udon is about all you can expect. And the soup was just okay. Unless you're going there with a vegetarian who is dying for something off their menu, I would choose a different venue.

The opinions expressed are solely mine, and I received no discounts or free meals for my reviews. Always ask your server about their gluten free offerings & tell them about your allergies or intolerances.