Food Review: Cafe Limoncello

IMG_20170916_132542314 (4)I was on Ottawa Street in Hamilton a couple weeks back.  I’ve not been there in quite the while, and was very impressed with how the area has transformed.  There are still a number of independent fabric stores with a great variety of fabrics and notions.   In addition to the fabric shops are a wide variety of interesting restaurants, gift shops and antique stores, as well as a farmers market.  I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to spend, but I’ll be heading back soon.

I decided to stop for lunch at Cafe Limoncello, which serves traditional Italian fare. To my surprise they have a gluten free menu, CafeLimoncello001_Selectedwith my favourite pizza!  I chose the Sorrento, a white pizza with portobello and button mushrooms, as well as gorgonzola and mozzarella.  It was a good size pizza, the size of a large dinner plate.  And the taste — INCREDIBLE!  The cheese was so rich and flavourful.  The mushrooms were juicy and tasty.  I can’t even tell you what the crust was like because I was so mesmerized by the the toppings I forgot to judge it.     But stay tuned, I’ll be heading back soon to try another one.  I have to say that this was by far the best gluten free pizza I’ve tried.  If like me you love pizza Cafe Limoncello is definitely worth the drive!

 

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Quick Sweet Chili Green Bean Dinner, Gluten Free

sweat chilli green beansI saw this Taste of Thai sweet chili sauce in the grocery store, and noticed the gluten free label on it, so decided to give it a try.  I tend to avoid prepared sauces as so many have “natural flavoring”, which is often wheat.  I’m always grateful for the gluten free labeling on food!

sweet chilli sauce photoThis is my own quick dinner idea, as I love green beans and wanted another variation.   I trim and cut the green beans into bite-size pieces, toss in olive oil and roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  I then add to a fry pan the container of chili sauce along with beans and bring to a boil.  I serve over a bed of rice, pictured here with jasmine rice.   That’s it, quick, delicious, and nutritious!  You can always add additional vegetables or meat, but I try to keep it simple during the week.  I find one container is a perfect amount for two adults.  Hope you enjoy!

Continue reading Quick Sweet Chili Green Bean Dinner, Gluten Free

My Favourite Gluten-free Banana Bread

banana-bread-photo.jpgI’ve shared a lot of ready-made snacks, so I think it’s time to get back to basics and treat myself to some home baking.  My grandmother was an exceptional baker so my standards are pretty high.  I remember my grandmother going to our backyard, picking apples off our tree and then making apple cake, you can’t get any fresher than that!  I’d share that recipe but I don’t have it, she just baked without recipes.

I’ve been spending time perfecting my banana bread recipe, and I think I have it pretty close to done.  I started with a recipe from the web (can’t remember where I got it), and then modifying it to my taste.  The photo is mine of my actual cake.  The last ingredient is coconut milk but only if extra moisture is needed.   You want a fairly thick batter, but I sometimes add a little coconut milk if the batter does not have enough moisture to mix the ingredients together well, this is just by feel.  I hope you find time to treat yourself to something homemade soon!

Ingredients:
3 large bananas mashed
2 large eggs beaten
¼ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coconut flour
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup walnuts quartered
Coconut milk if needed

Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour in 9 inch loaf pan.  Time will vary from oven to oven.

 

Snack Bar Made Better

Nudge

“Food made better” is what the packaging of this snack bar promised, so I thought I would give it a try.  I was looking for some variety in my usual breakfast routine, and wanted to add more fruit to my diet.  I’m really good with making sure my diet includes a wide variety of vegetables and leafy greens, but fruit is a category where I need to improve upon.

When I saw these new Nudge bars in the gluten free section of my local Metro, I felt like I could kill two goals with one bar!  I tried both offerings, pineapple as well as raspberry.  Both bars were quite good, but I have to say I that the pineapple is outstanding!  Along with pineapple ingredients include: oats, quinoa, and hemp seeds.  There are a number of other ingredients like dates and baobab fruit.   I’d not heard of baobab fruit before, but it’s the fruit of the baobab tree also known as the tree of life.  I was already sold by the great, light taste, but the addition of fruit from the tree of life placed Nudge at the top of my breakfast list!

 

Gluten Free At the Beach

TrishGetting away from the city and spending some time at the beach is a welcome break from all the hustle and bustle.  The problem is that most beach food is packed-full of gluten, battered and deep fried or served on a bun.  My sister lives near the beach community of Port Dover and recently started working at Trish’s gluten free bakery and café in Port Dover, so I decided to try it out.  Port Dover is a small beach community on Lake Erie and is about an hour and twenty minute drive from Mississauga, so perfect for a day trip.  Trish’s Bakery Café is just a few blocks from the beach on Main Street.

I wondered down to Trish’s to take a mid-afternoon break from the sun, and was I glad I did!  I had a cappuccino along with an ultimate butter tart – it was awesome!  Light, flaky and not overly sweet like a lot of gluten free treats.  I picked-up a chocolate zucchini loaf to take home and some gluten free wraps.  The zucchini loaf was moist, chocolaty, and light and fluffy, it melts in your mouth.  I really liked the light, fluffy texture.  A lot of gluten free baking is very dense and heavy, but not at Trish’s.  Next time I go down, I’m taking a cooler and stocking up.  If you’re staying for dinner, the gastro pub TwoEleven Main (just down the street), offers Trish’s gluten free multigrain flat buns.

Favorite Quick Dinner Fix – Veggie PadThai

Pad Thai Kit 4I’ve always loved Thai food.  Pad Thai and mango salad are my top picks in restaurants. Thanks to a Taste of Thai, I also add Pad Thai as a quick weekday dinner.    The nutritional facts on the packaging state the products are gluten free and list all the ingredients.  There is soy in the product.   Although I’m sensitive to soy, it does not irritate me, but as always know your tolerances.

I’ll pick up five items at lunch if I don’t have them at home — Taste of Thai rice noodles, two packs of Pad Thai sauce, bean sprouts and a pack of green onions.  There is also a kit with noodles and sauce as shown in the photo, but I like to double up on the sauce so I buy the items separately.   Soak the noodle in hot water as soon as you get home.  The noodles need about 30 minutes to soak.  While the noodles soften, get changed, wash and cut the onions, wash the sprouts. By then, you are ready to cook, heat the pan, cook the onion, then add noodles and cook for a few minutes, then add the sprouts and sauce. The boxes have more specific cooking instructions, but basically in 10 to 15 minutes of cook time you have a great tasting gluten-free dinner.

Food Review: Domino’s Pizza

DominosAt the suggestion of Jilly, who left a comment on this blog suggesting Domino’s, I decided to try them out. I tested my usual veggie selection of mushrooms, pineapple and green olives. Domino’s offers the gluten free in their standard small size, 10” round. The size was actually very good – larger then Boston Pizza offering (individual pizza size, 8” square). Domino’s also provided an ample amount of toppings as well. The crust was thin, but moist and tasty.
I’ve tried the Domino’s a couple times in Mississauga, as well once in Brantford, and it’s a consistently good product – good size, good toppings, good taste. Having multiple food sensitivities, I’m a person who likes to know what I’m eating; I always look for the ingredients list and Domino’s posts theirs online. As with many pizza establishments, there’s always the risk of cross contamination, so please know your tolerance. For those who can handle cross contamination, the Domino’s gluten free pizza is good value for money – thanks Jilly!

Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni Launch

0005Last week I was invited to a food blogger event sponsored by Catelli for the launch of their gluten free macaroni.  The event was held at George Brown College Chef School, and was hosted by Chef John Higgins, Director of the school, and former personal chef to the Queen Mother.

Chef Higgins opened the evening with a tasting of Catelli’s elbow macaroni prepared at 3 different cook times.  The pasta was beautifully plated with three different sauces and other accompaniments.  While we sampled the pasta Chef Higgins entertained with a mix of cooking tips, as well as tales of his travels and cooking experiences.  He moved next to a demonstration of proper techniques for preparing pasta for a salad.  Chef Higgins recommended cooking the pasta a little on the tough side for a pasta salad, thus he cooked the macaroni for only 3.5 minutes.  We then moved over to the school’s student kitchens were we all had the opportunity to prepare the recipe under Chef Higgins’ supervision.

According to Cate0156lli, the pasta is produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility and is
certified by the Canadian Celiac Association’s Gluten-Free Certification Program.  The pasta is a mix of corn, white rice, brown rice, and quinoa, but they don’t state the percentage of each in the mix.   Unfortunately for me, I have sensitivities to corn and soy in addition to gluten.   I was hoping that that the pasta was low in corn, but no luck for me, my sinuses started to flare-up soon after the event.  For those who are fine with corn, the pasta and the salad were quite good.  The texture
was much like traditional wheat pasta with similar colouration, compared to brown rice pasta.   For families who need to modify their families’ diet for one or two members, this may be a good option.  The recipe we prepared follows, I made mine sans soy sauce and edamame and was very good, except for the sinus headache that followed.  For limited time, Catelli is offering a coupon for $1 off a box.

Catelli Gluten Free, Edamame Macaroni SaladGinger Edamame Macaroni Salad
Prep Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 5 – 6 min
Servings: 8

 

Ingredients:
1 pkg (340 g) CATELLI® Gluten Free Macaroni
2 cups (500 mL) frozen edamame
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) each granulated sugar and water
4 tsp (20 mL) gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
1 cup (250 mL) each diced red pepper and cucumber
1 cup (250 mL) each shredded Napa or Chinese cabbage and carrot
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onions

  1. Cook macaroni according for 3 to 3½ minutes. Drain in colander, then place pasta on a flat tray to cool. Once cooled, sprinkle with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of olive oil and mix gently with fingers.
  2. Blanche edamame in 2 cups (500 mL) of salted water for about 2 minutes and drain.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar with sugar, water, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper until sugar is dissolved; whisk in oil. Add cooked edamame to mixture.
  4. Toss macaroni and edamame mixture with red pepper, cucumber, cabbage, carrot and green onion to combine. Serve immediately.

Kind Bars, My New Favorite Snack!

kind barRecently, I was on a five hour Air Canada flight from Toronto to San Diego for a trade show.  While at the airport, I was looking for something to grab as a snack for later in the flight, so I decided to try a Kind bar.  I’ve seen the Kind bars frequently as I’ve noticed the unique name and attractive packaging in stores but not tired them until recently.  I have to say this Kind bar was great! Chewy, crunchy and sweet, but not too sweet, which is often the case with gluten-free snacks.

I now buy them in bulk as they are a satisfying snack for my 3:00 p.m. cravings or as a breakfast on the run!  My favorite combination is the dark chocolate with nuts and sea salt.  This bar turned out to be a hunger-saver on the flight as all the gluten-free food was sold out before the attendants even got to the middle of the plane (where I was sitting). Kind bars are now a permanent part of my packing list everywhere I go.  The best part is they are available in most grocery and drug stores.

Gluten Free at the Farmer’s Market

gluten free farmsYou’re probably saying to yourself, isn’t everything at the farmers market gluten free?  For the most part you would be right.  The majority of products at a farmers market are gluten free except for a couple bakers.  But small cottage industries are now starting to pop-up at farmers markets with speciality foods.  This is great news for those living gluten free.  It keeps costs down for businesses that don’t have to pay for expensive store fronts but still provides a bit of commercial flexibility to those buying the products as you don’t really have to go out of your way to pick them up.

I was recently at the Burlington Farmer’s Market at the Burlington Mall just south of the QEW and Guelph line and was pleasantly surprised with the offerings.  The speciality merchants included – From the Wild Mountain, gluten free bakery, as well as Saigon Soul Foods (Vietnamese), and Sabores Latinos (Latin American) all with gluten free selections.  From the  Wild Mountain had some of the lightest, airiest gluten free breads I’ve had.  Saigon Soul Foods offers gluten free spring rolls – yum!  Many fresh salsa and guacamoles are available from Sabores Latinos.

It is hard to find this many gluten free offerings in one place.  So if you’re eating gluten free and visiting a farmers market, don’t walk past those non-produce vendors as I used to do – they have a lot to offer everyone and a lot fresher than what you would get anywhere else.