gluten-free Indian food.... yes please!!

While I have great affection for all things Italian - I have to say the best food in my books when it comes to dining out or ordering in has to be Indian. Don't take my word for it (yep, you still have to check with the kitchen), but there are many delicious dishes that are naturally gluten free providing they are prepared safely.

my candlelit photo is not the best representation!
Rice - most of us will agree we feel pretty confident about rice. Basmati with oil and spices, sometimes vegetables... shake it up and try them all. (Yes Dad, I still pick out the peas). 

Pakora is hands down my favourite dish. They are essentially spicy, fritter appetizers made of chickpea flour, spices and veggies (usually potato, onions, spinach). Make sure that they are not fried with other gluten-ridden items on the menu.

Butter Chicken (chicken in a rich and creamy tomato-style sauce), Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), Chana Masala (chickpeas in spicy sauce).... oh my!! (Click on the names which are linked to more information on each dish.)

Ideally, you can find an Indian take-out close to home with an owner that is available to have a chat. Every few times I order I check in on my ingredients intelligence to make sure that dishes continue to be safe. In some places Saag Paneer (Indian cheese with spinach) is made gluten-free, but not everywhere.

Skip the Naan bread, have the Papadum crackers. Finally, I'd suggest that you move slowly, adding new dishes over time. I've been doing this for awhile, and like to explore dishes beyond the "classics" highlighted here. 

I'm getting to know the gentleman who owns the Indian restaurant down the street. Making friends with the people who make your food - feels good. You'll also feel more confident that they will take good care of you!


filling up the larder - cook once & enjoy over time...

Last summer we totally got into hitting the farmer's markets on Saturday mornings. As fall approached we realized that a long Ontario winter was ahead of us. A winter of questionable produce imported from distant lands.

I fondly remember autumn afternoons spent with my friend Pina and her family... preparing cans of tomatoes they'd order by the bushel to later use in amazing Italian dishes. Rows of sauce lined their pantry shelves for the rest of the year. I prized the jars I'd be sent home with for my work prepping the sugo in the backyard. 

While we weren't quite ready for that level of commitment, Bill was inspired enough to cook up huge batches of sauce to be stored in the freezer. 

We don't believe that you have to live in the kitchen to live well, but we do believe in working smart. One afternoon of well organized play can result in a LOT of ready made dinners for those weeknights when you just can't face food prep. Some really good quality sauce on top of your favorite gluten-free pasta or polenta hits the spot.

As I post this we are down to the last jar. The countdown to spring begins...


gluten free pizza is delivered everywhere

I opened our mailbox one night a few weeks back to find the expected stash of flyers for local pizza delivery. Normally I don't even give them a second glance. Their coupons hold no value to my celiac self. But this time - one caught my eye... and then the next. 

To my amazement 3 out of 3 of these pizza chains were offering a gluten-free pizza. Does this mean I'll never have to endure another outting where I'm not the only one shirking the sacred bread-like triangles with stringy cheese? 

Hard to say. Regardless of how popular our diet is becoming with the fast food market (buns on burgers? Oh happy day!)...How safe do you feel ordering a gf pizza from a fast-food establishment, where in all likelihood your pizza is being made by a high-school student for minimum wage? Will your pizza pie be put on the floured counter or tray? Will they spread the cheese on with floured hands? Will they know what celiac disease means, and how important it is to have safe food?

I have eaten said pizza. It's a crap shoot. First time, no problem. Second... mamma mia. I'm more likely to eat take-out pizza vs delivery because I can look the person who made my pizza in the eye and say: If you don't think you can make it without making me sick I'll respect you for saying so. Oh, and I'll try not to barf outside your entrance (not that I would barf... but I like to make it tangible for them:)).

I'm not suggesting you do - or you don't order gf pizza. I'm am suggesting that we use discretion, and let the operation know that there are those avoiding gluten - and those that can't touch the stuff. I'd like them not to use the term gluten-free pizza too lightly. Just sayin'. 


my gluten-free valentine

This post is dedicated to an awesome fella named Bill. Anyone living on a gluten-free diet will tell you that having support at home is key to living well. 

Allergic and intolerant to nothing - he is highly tolerant of my needs. With the exception of an occasional loaf of bread in the freezer our home is gluten-free. Bill also grocery shops (never without his reading glasses!), regularly cooks delicious meals, and has never once complained about missing out. He is the best Valentine ever.


crackers for lentil crackers - gluten free goodness!

The first time I tried Mediterranean Lentil Crackers was this summer at a work colleague's house. He had very kindly gone out of his way to find some gluten-free options to put out at the pot luck lunch are team was having. These were so good, I read the ingredients again after tasting. 

They are firmly crunchy vs flakey and the lentils lend a nutty flavour that I totally groove on. They are delightful on their own (read addictive) - small, and perfect for dips (as opposed to the type of cracker one might have with cheese). The ingredients list is short and healthy too. I'm hooked.


"may contain wheat" - where do you draw the line?

Whether you pick up a box of rice crackers, a bag of jujubes, or a package of raw almonds for that matter... what do you think when you see that little disclaimer at the end of the ingredients list? 

Ingredients: Almonds. May contain traces of dairy, wheat and nuts. Nope, I'm not making this up - actually seen on a bag of raw almonds. MAY contain nuts. 

I get that manufacturers are being cautious - I love it in fact. Their facilities likely make or package a large range of food items that may have made contact with said almonds. I would love it even more if I had a kid with a peanut allergy that went into anaphylactic shock from contact. 

Part of me wonders however if this is the new "dry clean only" label that is put on everything to ensure that no one is culpable. I've hand washed a lot of dry clean only items in my lifetime. In a few years every package containing items smaller than an egg may read "may be choking hazard". Am I taking this thought process too far?

Contamination for someone with celiac can mean a nasty reaction and internal damage (even without symptoms). I'm curious about where you  draw the line when you read this "may contain" statement on packaging.