Think of Me Gluten-Free

Think of Me Gluten-Free: March 2013

20 March 2013

The "Good Cookie"

It's a good thing we have cookies.

They make just feel normal again. Oh darling, I know there are those days when we begin to feel estranged from all those wheat-eaters out there. With a slow shake of your head as you decline a plate of Oreos ("But they're vegan!"), or a slice of cake, to see their tilted head and apologetic smile, just remember that a gluten free cookie has all the same comfort, and all the more flavour. Now, that's better. The warmth and flavour melts in your mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. And rejuvenate.
Friends, you, and yours, are often absorbed in their busyness and activities, and can sometimes pass a plate of wheat-filled treats without thinking. You sheepishly pass it to the next person and avoid anyone's gaze. It's not guilt which you feel for the foods you have chosen (or must) not eat. Sometimes, their questioning which happens so frequently,

"Oh! You can't eat this?"

Or cries of,

"I am so sorry!"

Are worse that just forgetting the plate was ever passed, and held in your hands for that quick moment. Justifying yourself is too exhausting each and every time, time and time again. Sometimes it's a challenge: it's even more a challenge outside the comfort of your own home; managing restaurant menus while dealing with a growing appetite is certainly a tyrant of a battle. Sitting down to a hot latte in the city with friends while they chow down on deliciously appetising sandwiches (I stole all her olives!) or fluffy muffins that leave your belly grumbling (Darling, shhh, I whisper... People only stare, but that's just fine - at least I don't have a wheat belly!)

Friends that must be kept close, tell you they'll hunt the streets for "some of that weird gluten free food," and you laugh. Suddenly it's not so bad. The dragon will be tamed; I'll get my cake - and eat it too.

Those friends also make an pizza just for you for girl's night at her house, an experiment of different flours and techniques so again you can enjoy the normalities of everything about spending time with friends. Even if there is nothing normal about that night. It's important to remember that no matter who you are, and what you choose to do, your friends are always there, will always stand by you.

There will also be that perfect gluten free cookie.

Both invaluable, neither replaceable. This is for you.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Print me here!

These are the perfect blend of sweet and everything nice. Add 1/2 cup of oats to replace the coconut flour for more crunch, and both ways, enjoy with the soothing aroma from a cup of a maple ginger tea latte. Blending strong and sweet, and putting both your mind and body back into balance.

Yields approximately 18 cookies.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup almond butter, crunchy
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 - 3/4 cup gluten free chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg, pour in the almond butter and apple sauce, and mix.

Now add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and powder, and oat. Fold into the wet.

Add in brown rice and coconut flour as well as the chocolate chips. Mix until well blended. Form 1 1/2 inch - 2 inch diameter rounds and press lightly onto the parchment paper.

Bake for 12 - 16 minutes.

Make tea.


xx S.

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19 March 2013

Candied Nuts to Keep Us Snacking

These candied nuts might make the perfect snack to bring on the plane - I can't believe we're actually going off to Cuba this spring break, and that we've only got to wait until the end of this week! None of us really know what to expect, and can only know what the guidebooks and reviews tell us; it will definitely be a very different experience. I've traveled to England many times with my parents, and to surrounding countries, and more recently been to tropical vacation resorts such as Hawaii and the Cayman Islands, however I've never been to a place as culturally different to where we live as Cuba. And I am very excited.

I'm also excited to break from bleak weather and cold rain that continues to finalise each week for us - however, I seem to have nothing to complain about compared to the other side of Canada, with snow storms bringing in over a foot of snow just as spring comes around the corner. Perhaps my pale skin will soak up enough vitamin D to last me until summer, and I'll come back happy and energetic (and tanned!) We've got sun screen, sunglasses, and bathing suits on our packing lists, and I can't wait to put them to good use!

A couple of weekends ago my parents took me to buy a backpack for the trip, it's not too large since we're only going for a week, but I've already started packing. Mentally laying out outfits for the week, planning which of my many pairs of shorts to take, and rolling things up to fit in my pack. I'm really excited to be away from my phone, from Facebook, Pinterest, everything, for a week, and in fact, I wish it were longer. I need a break. And I think both of my parents do as well, from work, school, and little problems that seem so great when we're in the middle of it all, but with a step back, a holiday, they don't seem so big on reflection. We need this trip for a change of perspective, and to put things into reality again.

It's actually quite refreshing not really knowing, or not knowing at all, what to expect. I am a planner and an organiser, and I feel myself slowly letting go even before we've left, all because I cannot plan the events, I can't picture the place or the people there at all. I'm trying to get mum to leave some of the planning to chance, since once we get there I expect our knowledge and feel of the place will change drastically from how it is now, and there is no way we can know now what we will want to do. But I think she's nervous: none of us speak Spanish, we don't know anyone there, and well, it's a completely new experience.

Pack on my back, and notebook in my hand, I can't wait to depart from the plane in hot, sunny, tropical Cuba, and just enjoy every moment we have there, wherever it takes us. Hopefully I can jot down recipes to try back at home, with new inspiration from traditional cuisine from the owners of the casas particulairs which we will be staying at, individually run and owned bed and breakfasts, an option for the "more adventurous tourist." I'm also taking a little camera from my trip to France in the summer, and hopefully will return with lots of colourful photos of Havana and surrounding towns which we will be visiting.
Maple Candied Nuts
Print recipe here

These Maple Candied Nuts are so delicious! I made some to top a salad for a dinner last week, and after we had all finished, we sat their munching on the remaining nuts - and finishing every last crumb off! So, I decided today to make another batch, just in case of course. They can be enjoyed as is, a simple but delicious snack, and also as a delicious garnish for desserts. Vanilla ice cream topped with caramel and spiced nuts? Oh that does sound delicious!

I already regret making so little as I did, so you might as well whip up a double batch while you've got all your ingredients ready to go - these will be gone quickly. These are just too good to pass up.

Personally, I don't like spicy foods very much, but if you would like that extra kick - add 1/4 tsp of cayenne powder to the mix.


2 cups mixed raw nuts (I used pecans and cashews because they're my favourite, but you can choose any type really!)
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used Himalayan)


Stir together nuts in a large bowl.

Pour the maple syrup over nuts, add ground cinnamon and stir to coat evenly.

On a baking sheet, pour nuts out and spread apart evenly. Sprinkle generously with salt.

Bake at 300ºF for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir, before baking an additional 10 minutes, or until nuts are toasted and coating is sticky.

Let cool 5 minutes, the nuts should be dry to the touch. Serve warm or cool completely and store in a sealed container.

Enjoy! xx S.

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18 March 2013

This Soup For Spring

I'm obsessed with soup. I'm pretty sure I've started a previous post with the same sentence, so it's obvious that I go through phases - or food obsessions, like last week when all I craved was eggs with kale, or this ongoing obsession with avocados that leaves my Pinterest board full of ways to serve avocados, whole, mashed, or chopped. We missed a couple of weekend lunches consisting of warm bowls of soup served with a chopping board laden with runny brie and other cheeses and gluten free lentil crackers or garlic rosemary rolls, and I was suddenly feeling a pang of guilt for neglecting my inner love of winter (you know those cozy days by the fire, just you, a warm drink, and not much else?). I guess it's just been too darn sunny lately - oh, by no means am I complaining - I've been able to get out and enjoy runs through the trails, and I finally feel as if I can plan things without the deterrence of a sudden rain shower to stop me, but I needed to cozy up to a large bowl of soup and feel the warmth of comforting flavours again.

I noticed on my run this weekend that an entire blossom tree was blooming with small pink buds, when only last week it had just one branch showing the first signs of spring. Below the windows of our house too we can see the movement of warmer weather, and with it little red breasted robins that hop around our yard and peck at the ground for worms.

I am overly excited for summer, winter was warmer this year, so without the usual excitement of waking up to a white winter wonderland covered in snow unexpectantly, we keep our sights on the promise of sun with a change to spring, and out of habit, kept our rain boots, jackets, and umbrellas neatly lined up by the door and ready to use.

I couldn't help myself when the clouds covered the sky yesterday, and the house filled with an unexpected chill. This soup could even be enjoyed cold in the summer, but we agreed on the much needed warmth with our over-sized sweaters and thick socks. I made a list of needed ingredients, and after facing the brisk wind to scooter to the store, I was ready to prepare and cook in the kitchen.
We've been enjoying the rich tastes of all different types of squash throughout this year's winter season, from spaghetti, to my favourite butternut squash, all delicious in various cooking techniques and recipes. So to pair the sweet flavour of squash with the strong and comforting aroma of ginger, this soup came out as the perfect blend of warmth and flavour to be enjoyed all year round. I've also been experiencing headaches for these past few weeks, it may have been caused by stress from deadlines and exams at school, so the fragrance of ginger with every spoonful was a definite cleanser, and I felt the effects immediately, something I must keep in mind for the future, and when things start getting stressful again as school breaks to exam period.

It's a great change from the sweetened tetra-pack soups we often find ourselves relying on, lost in the laziness of winter days, which are almost too addicting, and you begin to wonder what ingredients are really in it. Don't worry, this soup has nothing but fresh, whole ingredients, all easily accessible from your local store, and a healthy change in routine for lunch, or even dinner.
Ginger Butternut Squash Soup
Print recipe here

Fragrant, warm, and creamy. A delicious blend of winter vegetables and winter flavours for a comforting meal. Enjoy this soup right off the stove, or store it in an airtight container for a later date. Pair it with gluten free crackers for dipping, and be transported right back to holiday time, when everything is filled with warmth and everything is comforting. 

Makes 4 large servings


1 medium butternut squash
4 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Plain Greek yogourt for garnish


Halve and seed the butternut squash, then cut it into 2 inch chunks. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Using the largest holes on a cheese grater, shred the ginger. Set aside.

In a wide-rimmed skillet, heat the grape seed oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook until the vegetable soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and garlic, and stir in until fragrant, approximately 1 minutes.

Add the butternut squash and stock and increase the heat to bring to a boil. When bubbles begin to form, reduce the heat to medium low, cover partially, and simmer about 25 minutes. The butternut squash should be tender.

In a blender, process the soup in batches until smooth. Return it to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Reheat over medium low heat, or store in an airtight container once cool for up to 3 days.

Ladle into bowls, and top with a spoonful of plain Greek yogourt. Serve immediately.

Enjoy! xx S.

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08 March 2013

A Pear of Us

I write this sitting on the beach, (I never imagined my iPhone would be so useful) as the dog runs playfully across the white stones and bounds up and over the logs. She's sprayed me a couple of times already in her exuberance and excitement at being out and enjoying the bright blue sky and warmth of the sun. But I don't mind today, I'm not angry.

I've felt this odd sense of calm today, even as I walked through the house it was almost as if I stepped lighter, and freer. And despite being unable to catch the bus because it was full, I was relaxed, and eventually it worked out, I made the ferry, and came home smiling after a walk home. I can't work out whether its from the release of tensions and sweat in a class of hot yoga yesterday, with temperatures at 40°C at least, or perhaps I have finally finished term two in school, and I no longer have the pressures of deadlines weighing down on me. It seemed that everyone else was still caught up in the winter blues, and my acts of small kindness today, smiles and gestures, were unobserved today, or taken the wrong way. Many middle-aged women frowned at me, I was doing everything right, but to them, everything wrong.

However, I kept that out of my mind, and focused on this feeling keeping my spirits uplifted and my mood enlightened. I've never felt such a strong release from exercise than yesterday's class of yoga. The room was packed, and after being led through poses for seventy-five minutes with the instructors calming and assertive voice, everyone could feel beads of sweat forming, and then falling from us. It sounds gross, being stuck in a hot, humid room with many other strangers, but there was also this strange sense of communion and strength in the practice.

I feel the space between my shoulders widen, and the crease of my brow relax. Instead of frowning with the feeling of cold droplets hitting the back of my legs as the dog shakes, I laugh, pick up her stick, and throw it back into the water, watching her bound and leap with energy and motivation.
It does feel like spring, little crocuses have begun to peep up out of the earth in bunches, and small white petals can just be seen unfurling to the flowers still hidden. Pink blossoms on the trees bud out along the branches, bright dashes of pink in contrast to the bleak grasses and grey leafless trees.
I think I might venture back to the yoga studio soon, I'm already missing the heat in this crisp air, and the energy I felt afterward is more than enough to entice me back.

My dog again paws at my legs, and as I turn to her she races down to the waves lapping against the stones,

"Where's your stick?"

I call out, and she pounces upon the wave behind her, swimming in circles looking. She must have seen something because at that moment she dove under the water only to come up with a snort, and a stream of water drained out her mouth. She might be a water springer spaniel, but she hasn't quite perfected her swimming, despite her big webbed feet.

She paces the beach now, still looking for the stick. The stick that sank when I threw it out, still heavy and water-logged from the weeks rain. At least I can see the blue sky again.
At the word 'home' she gets excited all over again, probably expecting that with it comes food. However considering its taken me more than half an hour to cross the length of the beach as I repeatedly pause to continue writing, I'm not surprised she's whining and jumping at me.
The word 'home' also reminds me of cooking dinner tonight, for mum and dad when they come home from last night's date-night in Victoria. I think of dessert first, perhaps pears.

"Okay. Home now,"

I promise, and she speeds up the trail ahead of me before pausing, and bounding right back down to where I am.

Chai Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce
Print recipe here

Have you ever craved something sweet, but been turned off by the richness, as if it's almost too much for that small bite of delectable flavour you've been wishing for all week. These poached pears are the perfect balance of fresh ingredients with a bite of sweetness, and peared (pun intended) with a creamy chocolate sauce, it's the perfect denouement to dinner.

Serves 3


3 pears, ripe
1 cup water
3/4 cup pure cranberry juice, wine could also be used
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 - 3 tbsp almond milk


Peal the skins from the pears, keeping the stem intact.

In a medium sauce pan, pour in water, cranberry juice, and lemon juice along with vanilla, sugar, anise, and the cinnamon stick.
Bring the pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.

Very carefully, drop the peeled pears into the pan. Allow it to simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

Toss the pears very gently, and continue to simmer for a further 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and begin making the chocolate sauce.

In a microwaveable dish, combine the chocolate chips and almond milk, heat until completely melted and stir together.

Remove the pears from the pan and set into small individual serving dishes, pour a small amount of the liquid over top, and spoon the chocolate sauce over top.

These pears are delicious when served with vanilla ice cream.

**Note: the juice leftover from poaching the pears can be saved! It makes a delicious warm spiced cranberry chai, just add a little more water and heat over the stove.

Enjoy! xx S.

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02 March 2013

Baking Bread

Baking bread used to be my "speciality." My sister would come home expectant of a freshly baked loaf a few days after she came off the plane.

It was always something I loved. Kneading, rolling, patting, the smell of a warm loaf, and the delicious flavour of wholesome bread. Therefore, it became something I missed.
I used to play with baking breads, adding chopped olives or a blend of freshly chopped herbs and just imagining the warmth and flavour of a warm loaf from the oven with a variety of concocted tastes. But when I tried this same approach baking gluten free, they either didn't bake - an overlooked shell with a mushy, sticky centre - or sometimes, they would bake well, but just one bite would notify our tastebuds (and salivary glands) to over-work, it was gonna be one dry mouthful.

So it took a little more playing around. And I've finally found the best gluten free bread recipe as of late. Quick. Easy. And fool proof. A moist and flavourful roll. Fresh rosemary and garlic? It just makes me want to heat a big pot of soup on the stove and quickly make myself some rolls for dipping, and enjoying. Bean shepherds pie soup from last night sounds delicious, a wonderful mix of hearty beans and the flavour of tarragon, blended with potato, carrots, and a dash of coconut milk to create a creamy and wintery soup. Or perhaps, a bowl of Sweet Cumin Carrot Soup would be more suiting to bring us into Spring (although its still dark despite being only five o'clock). I also recommend dipping the warm rolls into some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Or a bowl of mussels, a delicious complement to the rosemary and garlic flavours of the buns.
When you pull bread from the oven, you are reminded of the best part of baking gluten free; seeing perfectly round little bread rolls, a tad risen, and the steaming aroma of herbs that escapes from the oven makes you feel the emotion in successful baking. These are soft, moist, and everything homemade bread should be.

Some days, baking bread takes a little nudge, and some days, with the rain pouring down and washing away all of our footprints and any trace of activity outdoors, we remain pulled by the warmth of the fire and the heat of our ovens. On those days, we take to our kitchens, and after, sit at our tables with a plate of delicious baked goods to write up recipes, jot down notes, and detail the experiences. So using whole food, we cook. Together, but also secluded in the clatter of pots and pans in our kitchens.

Some days good food is the effect reason to remain at home - you deserve a rest - while somedays it is the inspiration of a photo on Instagram or Pinterest, or maybe someone's conversation on your way home. Or it is the memory of good food from days past, that meal you enjoyed utterly, chewing in silence and sharing the enjoyment of flavours, that really does make the difference, and replenishes your motivation to cook again, to replenish your energy.

Because we are all much happier, and much healthier, with good food in our bellies, and a good mood as a result, sometimes all we need is a reminder of what we enjoy most, and what makes our lives a little bit better. A little bit happier.
Rosemary Garlic Bread Buns
Print recipe here.

I made this recipe twice over two days, eating the buns with soup, and with oil for dipping, for three meals in a row. They're perfect for breakfast with eggs or almond butter and jam, or for lunch and dinner with soup or as sandwiches. Since they are so quick and easy to make, I recommend you take out your mixing bowl and bake a few buns right now!

You may need to add more flour if the mix has too much liquid. The first time I made these rolls the quantities below were perfect, my kitchen was very cold, however the next day, after the house was warm from the blazing fire, the mixture required nearly double the amount of flour. Just make sure you don't add too much - you still want a bit of stickiness to end up with lovey and moist rolls! Have fun playing with quantities, these are almost guaranteed to taste delicious.

Makes 5 - 6 dinner buns.


Wet Ingredients:

4 eggs
3 - 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider
3/4 tsp xantham gum
1/4 cup coconut milk

Dry Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup chia seed flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp fresh or dried rosemary, chopped finely
1 large clove of garlic, minced


Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients, beating until combined completely.

Add dry ingredients and beat again.

Drop the mixture onto the parchment paper, and form into small round buns.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Allow buns to cool for 5 minutes before serving - the centres will be hot!

Delicious when dipped into olive oil.

Enjoy! xx S

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