Recently, my sister-in-law, Eva, was honoured at an Alice in Wonderland-inspired baby shower… just two months before the anticipated arrival of my future niece or nephew! My mom and sisters and I had so much fun planning the details- a card box shaped like the Mad Hatter’s hat, red roses arranged in paint-dripped paint cans (“you can always paint the roses red”), pink flamingos (no croquet though!), a ‘guess-the-tea’ game (sure beats the ‘smell-the-diaper’ game!), framed quotes from the book/movie, skeleton keys, playing cards, etc… and of course theme-related desserts! With my younger sister being a Pastry Chef, the “regular” dessert planning was no problem at all (her beautiful dessert table display is pictured at the very bottom of this post). However, with the shower honouree being the one who usually prepares the gluten-free desserts for us (you know her best as Eva of Pastel Bakery), I was tasked with the challenge of taking over the GF desserts to give her a much-deserved rest on her special day!
With inspiration from Pinterest, Catch My Party, Google Images, my Pastry Chef sister and my own crazy mind, I enjoyed creating the following gluten-free treats for Eva and I (pictured above):
Don’t be late’ blueberry macarons:Cuorenero brand macarons (found at Winners) with ‘clock details’ piped in Betty Crocker vanilla frosting
‘Paint the roses’ banana cupcakes:Betty Crocker GF yellow cake mix with organic banana added in, topped with coloured Betty Crocker vanilla “grass” frosting and Goody Good Stuff strawberry cream candies (found at Whole Foods Unionville) that looked like mini white and red roses
To artfully display these GF treats (yet keep them safely out of the ‘gluten-contaminated’ hands of others at the party), I decorated a tall glass cake stand with blue tulle and a white ‘apron’ to look like Alice’s famous dress (pictured below) and placed ‘for-Eva-and-Mel-only’ signage on top (plus Eva made a “hands off!” announcement before the dessert table was officially “open”). Our family knows better by now, but it’s always best to be safe.
In the end, the shower was a success! Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, desserts, games and company! And most importantly, our guest of honour- adorned in her custom ‘Queen of Hearts’ headband- went home with a smile as big as the Cheshire cat’s!
The coolest thing happened not too long ago… I was visiting Nates Bagels & Gluten Free Foods in Concord, ON (where I re-discovered my favourite GF wrap). While chatting with Chef Pierangela about gluten-free restaurants in the city, she mentioned La Veranda Osteria in Etobicoke-Toronto, ON and said that I had to go there because it was amazing! Now it is not at all close to me geographically so I promised her that I the next time I was in that area I would definitely check it out…
…meanwhile, back at my house, the mail was being delivered, in which later that day I discovered an invitation to my dear cousin’s daughter’s baptism- church, followed by lunch at La Veranda Osteria!!! C’mon now, that’s fate!
I was lucky enough that my cousin arranged a special meal for me in advance- and what a perfect place to do so! The food was excellent- I would definitely recommend- and there was no expense of quality or food presentation. See for yourself…
What to do August long weekend… what to do? How about a spontaneous road trip to NYC?!
With some ‘car snacks’ in tow (plenty of fresh fruit, Enjoy Life coco loco bars and cookies, Nature’s Path ‘Gorilla Munch’ cereal, Sunkist fruit-flavoured snacks, Lundberg sesame & seaweed rice chips… and, of course, water and juice), my travel companion and I hit the road in the middle of the night, and ~7 short hours later (+ a “required” stop at Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets), we made it!
With only a couple of days in the Big City, I had to choose from the wide variety of gluten-free food options wisely. After a quick scan of my GF Guide to NYC, plus a little extra last-minute research, I carefully picked my meals and, boy, was I pleased with my selections…!
A new find: “Bareburger” Organic Turkey Burger on Tapioca Rice Bun with Fire Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese. Love the build-your-own burger concept! ~bareburger.com
A favourite that I was not able to enjoy on my last visit: “Mozarelli’s” Veggie Pizza (+a GF/dairy-free brownie that was eaten too quick to photograph!) ~mozzarellis.com
A mouth-watering dish at my favourite restaurant in the world: “Bistango” Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Ravioli ~bistangonyc.com
A perfect ending to the road trip with a classic: “Outback Steakhouse” Chicken on the Barbie with a Baked Sweet Potato ~outback.com
Fresh off a recent business trip to Chicago, I can’t help but recall how accommodating the city was to the gluten-free diet. I enjoyed some delicious dishes, from pizza to hamburgers to desserts- all gluten-free!! 🙂
Here are some of the gluten-free meals I had the pleasure of tasting below. My mouth is watering just thinking about some of the items!
Pico de Gallo Hamburger at Mity Nice Bar & Grill- with avocado and salsa.
The most delicious bread rolls I have EVER tasted (at Mity Nice)! Seriously.
‘Oogave’ organic root beer at Mity Nice.
Pizza at Lou Malnati’s (this is what they call “light” cheese!)
Veggie Sandwich at Hannah’s Bretzel (with roasted almonds on the side!)
Red velvet cupcake at Sprinkles.
Chicken and salad at Wave (inside W Hotel).
Margherita flatbread at 676 Restaurant (inside Omni Hotel)- one of my favourite dishes of the trip!
This week, my sister-in-law, Eva of Pastel Bakery, and I had the pleasure of attending a gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian cooking class at Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket, with holistic nutritionists, Sherri Doak and Natasha Szauter. The hands-on class began with a tasting of goji berry tea with coconut sugar, and a demo of homemade vanilla almond milk and fresh thai spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce.
For the menu items, class participants were broken up into pairs with each pair responsible for preparing a few specific items on the menu (under the guidance of our trusty instructors), that the group shared ‘buffet-style’ at the end of the class. The menu items included: minted pea soup; buckwheat tabbouli; fennel, avocado and orange salad; masala millet cakes/patties with hot pepper mango salsa; walnut basil pesto with chickpea pasta and pine nut “parmesan”; dark chocolate quinoa cupcakes with toasted coconut frosting; cranberry bliss bars; and minty matcha banana mocktail.
That is the core, draconian commandment of a gluten-free diet, a prohibition that excises wide swaths of American cuisine — cupcakes, pizza, bread and macaroni and cheese, to name a few things.
For the approximately one-in-a-hundred Americans who have a serious condition called celiac disease, that is an indisputably wise medical directive.
Now medical experts largely agree that there is a condition related to gluten other than celiac. In 2011 a panel of celiac experts convened in Oslo and settled on a medical term for this malady: non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” ~Source: New York Times Blog
“Sales of natural products featuring third party certifications surged in 2012, according to new data from SPINS, with non-GMO project verified products leading the charge (+18%), followed by Fair Trade USA (+17%), Certified Gluten Free (+17%), and Certified B Corporation (+15%).” ~Source: FoodNavigator-USA.com