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… And Then Cancer Moves Up On My List Of Health Concerns (and why I’m ok with it)

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Two years ago I figured out that a severe gluten intolerance was the culprit of my ill health (as a side note, I’m still awaiting determination if it’s Celiac Disease). By strictly modifying my diet, my ill health improved drastically.

Just over a year ago I suffered a mental breakdown and began treatment for clinical depression. Again, huge results in my mental and physical health after I started on a low dose anti-depressant.

Now, Cancer is on the forefront of my list of health concerns that I need to keep an eye out for. Warning: This is a bit of a long story.

Remember the kids’ story “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day“? The particular day in question wasn’t quite as bad as that … but it was the start of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

I woke up the last Monday of March and it was just one of those days. It was one of those days where I just feel like all I want to do is sit down and cry and there was absolutely nothing that I could think of that had set it off. Once upon a time it was a regular occurrence. Now, it only happens from time to time. I’m not sure what exactly it is that spurs it on … it could be that my anti-depressants were taken too close together or too far apart. Perhaps it was related to my monthly cycle. Who knows what triggered it. I just knew that if I got up and carried on that it would likely pass at some point throughout the day and if not, my mood/state would be reset the following day after waking up after a long nights sleep.

Later on that day I had a message from my mom saying that my dad had went for an ultrasound and something had shown up. The next day, he returned for a CT scan and the results indicated that most likely one of the polyps in his stomach had turned cancerous.

This was not 100% entirely unexpected. My father has a condition called Attenuated Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (AFAP). If left untreated, growths (called polyps) can form in the colon and turn cancerous over time. A regular colonoscopy can check for these growths and if present, they can be removed at that time. My father had his first polyp show up at the age of 40. By the time that he had turned 50 the number had multiplied so rapidly that there were hundreds of polyps in his large intestine – too many to “burn off”. As a preventative measure, he had all but a few inches of his large intestine removed. The following year polyps began forming in his stomach. And similarly, they multiplied to the hundreds. At first there were talks about removing his entire stomach, connecting his esophagus to his small intestine, a process referred to as a gastrectomy . But it would be such a huge impact to his body considering that there was only a few inches left to his large intestine, and in his particular case they expected him to be on a liquid diet and probably have to use a feeding tube. They decided to monitor at 6 month intervals with the intent that they would be able to do the surgery the minute (figuratively, that is) that the polyps started to turn. He was due to go back in a few weeks for his 6 month “inspection” but over the Fall he wasn’t feeling well, having a lot of pain, and that past week he was starting to get nauseated, in addition to the other new symptoms that he was experiencing. That’s when they put him on the fast track for the ultrasound and CT scan.

I ended up calling in to work that Wednesday and said that I wouldn’t be in. I had a lot to process.

My first thoughts were just getting him through his surgery and treatments. Then I started to think about what was to come next. I thought about how his life would be affected by no longer having a stomach (I suspect I inherited my ‘foodie’ personality from him). And then it occurred to me that if I ever do get my restaurant idea off of the ground, that my dad would not be able to enjoy the food that is prepared there. And it made me sad. My dad has always been super proud of my accomplishments and I would hate for him not to experience it in its entirety.

And then my thoughts started to shift from my dad … to my eventual fate.

I, like my dad, am gene positive for AFAP. I’ve known that I’ve had the condition since I was little, due to genetic testing. Screening for polyps started for me while I was still in high school. My dad didn’t get his first polyp until he was 40. By age 50, he had the majority of his large intestine removed. I had my first polyp at age 26. The next year I had my first polyp in my stomach. So I worry, if it progresses at the same rate as my father, will I be looking at the removal of my large intestine by age 36? Or, like with his stomach, could the polyps in my stomach multiple so quickly that I have to deal with cancer and/or have my stomach removed before I hit 40? It was a lot to take in.

Then I started to wonder “What if I get cancer and/or have my stomach removed? What happens to my restaurant dream then??”

This blog has been a component of that dream and I’ve been having so much fun doing it. My blog and dream restaurant is my passion right now. It’s what drives me.

It’s funny. That Monday morning when I woke (before any light had been shed on the extent of the worsening of my dad’s health), I had read an interesting post on Offbeat Home, “I caught that dream that I was chasing. Now what?“. I could relate to the post because: 1) the writer deals with “Imposter Syndrome” and 2) I’ve also been wondering that exact same question. Despite waking up that morning feeling bad from the start, this post was just what I needed to make my bad day feel a little brighter. I felt encouraged that morning to continue after my dream.

Despite reading that post and feeling better about my bad day, after receiving the news of my father’s predicament, it fast-tracked my future-fears of battling cancer myself. In addition to that, I started to worry about what would happen if I had to have my stomach removed. Would I even want to continue to develop this blog and/or my restaurant dream if I were unable to partake in the pleasures of food? Or, if I did achieve my dream restaurant, would I come to resent it??

Then I started to wonder “What if I can no longer enjoy food? Will I become a social hermit?”

I thought about how we love to entertain and its always based on food. True to Newfoundlander form, we’ve always been known for our “kitchen parties”. For this reason, our new home is being designed with our kitchen as our focal point of the house. It’s where we will spend the majority of our time. What if I start to despise those kitchen parties because I would feel out of place because I can’t enjoy dining with my friends?

My not-so-final thought: “Should I give up on my dream?”

This was a lot to digest for one day. I felt lost and I felt like I should give up on my dream rather than face the possibility of my dreams eventually being crushed. I had an overwhelming feeling of “what’s even the point?“.

Then I received an email response to a previous request to do a guest post on my blog. They said that they wanted to do a post on Celiac Disease and Depression, and that they had found my blog by doing a Google search. I think it was what I needed to snap me back out of the funk that I had found myself in. I started this blog as a means to help others through sharing my experiences. By labelling my blog “Food Allergies Etcetera”, the etcetera portion has allowed me to delve into the topic of mental health. And I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who have read my posts related to mental illness because they could truly identify with what I had experienced, and they found that they now had someone else who knew what they were personally experiencing. So what, if at some point I may not be able to enjoy food and share in foodie experiences. Perhaps this blog will morph into something else that is useful to others … perhaps it will serve as a connection point for others with AFAP/FAP, or perhaps it will be a vessel to share my future story of cancer prevention and/or survival.

On the first Friday of April (funny how April just happens to be cancer awareness month), my dad received confirmation that, since his last 6 month inspection, he had cancer in his stomach. His GI surgeon advised that he would not be doing  the gastrectomy at this time and that chemo was the better treatment option. A referral was made to see an oncologist, to discuss chemo. Things have moved very fast and it’s already been just under three weeks since he started treatment and he is doing well with it. Other than being fatigued, he’s not felt sick, has no pain, has stopped losing weight, has regained his appetite and is able to enjoy food just as he always has. And best of all, he still has a full head of thick hair that any 58 year old would be envious of ;). Hopefully this is an indication of the effectiveness of the treatment!

It’s been a month since that horrible, no good, very bad day … but since then, I’ve stumbled across this article about a young woman in her 20s who decided to have a gastrectomy, and it was quite positive. I also found the No Stomach For Cancer website which has a lot of valuable information, including this overview of a Gastrectomy (You’ll find a lot of useful info related to life during and after a gastrectomy. Just hover over “Gastric Cancer” at the top menu, then hover over “Life Without a Stomach” and you’ll find 4 subpages). In addition to this, I was connected with someone (who I’ll be meeting in the coming weeks) who also decided to have a gastrectomy because she knew that stomach cancer was imminent (due to genetic markers) and she claims that the surgery saved her life (in addition to many other of members of her family). I think she will be a huge resource should I ever decide to go that route in the future. As a result, I’m starting to feel that although having a future Gastrectomy would be life altering, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

My final thought: “You know what? … this situation isn’t as bad as it sounds”

I know the information that I’ve laid out in this post is a bit much to take in … and it sounds like a sad story. But I’m not letting it manifest that way for me. I know our family can beat this. I had a bit of an epiphany moment and its really helped me to deal with the whole situation:

Everyone has their expiry dates. If my eventual fate was to be hit by a bus and killed in a months time, I’d have no idea … And would go on living as if I had years to accomplish what I want to accomplish in life, only to be cut short of those accomplishments. Now I get to live as though I don’t have all the time in the world, it will motivate me to be healthier, appreciate life more and make the best of it.

I wouldn’t come out and be as cocky to say “bring it on!” to cancer … but if it happens to me I’ll be ready for it. I live a relatively healthy life, and am consciously aware of my physical and mental states. I’ve learned over the years that I need to listen to my mental and physical needs. If something seems to be wrong, I’ll immediately arrange to have it checked out. Perhaps in the years to come I’ll be pro-active and have a partial or full gastrectomy, if it looks like it will reduce my risk of developing cancer. I’m upbeat and positive and have an amazingly huge support network in my life, including a fantastic local-gone-national Non-Profit Organization called Young Adult Cancer Canada. I’ve been supporting this group since I’ve discovered it in 2009 and take comfort in knowing the fantastic support that they give to young adults dealing with cancer. I’m not in despair by the recent series of events … I am motivated and I am ready for whatever life has to dish out to me! :)

Have you, or someone close to you, had a gastrectomy, been affected by stomach/colorectal cancer, or are a cancer survivor? If so, care to share any advice?

Thanks for reading. As you may or may not have noticed, I recently took a short hiatus from blogging. I have a feeling that for the time being I might continue with this break or at least not blog as actively … although there is potential for some guest posts to pop up from time to time.

Also, positive thoughts are appreciated for our family at this time.

xo

Krista

My Meal Making Equivalent of the 10-Second Tidy

If you were a Canadian child (or caretaker of a child) of the 90s, then you are likely familiar with the phrase “10-Second Tidy”. If not, it was one of the many aspects of a Canadian children’s television show called “The Big Comfy Couch

I work at an 8 AM to 5 PM job for an oil & gas company … but often it’s closer to 6 PM before I clue up for the day and make my way home. By the time I get home and play with my pup, who’s been home alone all day while we’re at work, I’m in no mood to to make a healthy meal that’s going to take the entire evening to prepare. And I wished that I could speed myself up like Loonette does while doing her 10-Second Tidy.

As a result we’ve come up with our favourite options for speeding up meals when we are late getting home from work:

1. Prepare chicken or salmon in advance.

We usually cook 1 to 2 packs of chicken and sometimes a pack of salmon on Sundays and keep it in the fridge all week to assemble meals to take to work, or to quickly prepare a meal once we get home. We typically just drizzle on some olive oil and some spices and bake in the oven. The spices that we’ve been using are the Clubhouse mixes like Vegetable and Lemon & Herb. I know that these have additives, sulphites, etc. so once these are gone I’m going to switch to a natural spice mix. We use the salmon as a meal in itself, but we use the chicken as a main, in salads, wraps, tacos, various recipes, etc.

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2. Roast asparagus in the oven.

Place asparagus in a glass baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and squeeze juice of 1/2 a lemon over top. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Easy Peasy!

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3. Panini-press grilled sweet potato fries.

Chop up a sweet potato, drizzle some olive oil and your favourite spice and grill on your panini-press for 15 minutes. This method is super quick if you have your fries cut up the night before, but they will turn out a little soft (which I don’t really mind). However, I did find this recipe which has a tip for avoiding soggy fries. If I were to use their tip, I’d have my fries cut in advance, so that all I would need to do is place them in the water to soak for 30 minutes as soon as I get home so that they soak while I’m playing with our pup, Jax.

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4. Keep salad ingredients on hand.

I often make salads for lunch. I have my usual salad and my ‘I feel like a break’ salad.

My usual contains spinach, dried cranberries (Ocean Spray has a gluten-free and tree nut free statement on its package), sliced almonds (be careful of may contain ingredients), diced cheese (if I have it on hand), sliced chicken (from 1. above) and my salad dressing is usually just olive oil, balsamic oil and honey. I don’t measure out the dressing ingredients. I usually just eyeball it as I’m pouring it into a small container. It’s roughly 1 part honey, 2 parts balsamic vinegar, and 3 parts olive oil.

The other salad that I make when I want a break from the usual, contains spinach, mandarin orange segments, sliced almonds and sliced chicken. The dressing is similarly eyeballed. Its roughly 1 part sesame oil, 1 part soya sauce (I use VH soya sauce and got confirmation that it’s gluten free), 2 parts juice from the can of mandarin oranges, and 2 parts olive oil.

5. Slow-Cooker meals.

I discovered this blogger, Stephanie O’Dea, who does slow cooker recipes that are gluten-free, due to her daughter’s Celiac Disease. We use her Honey Garlic Chicken recipe on a regular basis. It is delicious! I like the fact that by using the recipe for left overs for the week that we can skim off the excess fat from the chicken thighs after it has congealed in the refrigerator. It all settles to the top so it’s very easy to skim off and dispose of.

6. Keep gluten-free pizza crusts on hand.

I like to make quick BBQ chicken using Kinnikinnick GF crusts, leftover chicken (from 1. above), BBQ sauce and cheese (if I have some on hand). In just over 20 minutes the pizza is ready.

7. Keep Ian’s Gluten-Free chicken nuggets on hand.

The package says to bake in the oven for 13 minutes but I like to bake them for just over 20 minutes to make the batter slightly crunchy.

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8. Keep cooked rice on hand (either packaged or prepared yourself and stored in the fridge).

You can use it as a quick and easy side or as filler in a wrap.

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9. Keep chopped veggies in the fridge.

Our usuals are peppers, mushrooms and onions.Use them to make a quick omelette, or fry up some peppers, onions and mushrooms with a little bit of seasoning for use in wraps, tacos, on paninnis, or simply as a side dish. Your kitchen will smell delicious as it fries.

These are just some of the ways that are able to eat in a short amount of time once we return home from work.

How about you? Do you have any 10-Second Tidy meals that you’d like to share?

Pretty girl with a shopping bag catches a taxi

Become A Promiscuous Shopper

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There’s been several things that I’ve learned since having to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle due to my severe gluten-intolerance.

  1. You’re gonna have to do a lot more shopping for supplies
  2. You will likely have to become a “promiscuous shopper”.
  3. It’s best if you familiarize yourself with whats out there.

… well, if you live in larger centers, then you might not have to be so promiscuous when it comes to shopping to accommodate a food allergy or dietary restriction, but if you live here in the St. John’s and surrounding areas you can expect the need to shop around in order to find all of your groceries.

First, lets look at Supermarkets.

Not only does the variety in the Natural Food Section (or as I lovingly refer to it as, “The Freaky People Aisle”) vary between Supermarket chains … it also varies within each chain.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a creature of habit. So I’ve always stuck to Sobey’s stores … and in addition, I’ve also gravitated to the same location. I like familiarity and efficiency. The minute I have to go to a different store I feel like I’ve landed in “Shelbyville” and I suddenly can’t find the items that I’m looking for as easy as I would in my regular  store . I end up getting distracted, it takes me twice if not three times as long to find what I’m looking for, and if my guy is waiting for me in the car …. I can expect to receive “Focus!!” texts to ensure that I’m not dillydallying and stay on task.

That all changed when I discovered my food intolerance.

Over time I realized that Dominion has a great selection in their Freaky People Aisle. So I now break up my shopping between Sobeys and Dominion. I also realized that the selection varies from Sobeys store to Sobeys store (and similarly with Dominion). What would show up in the freezer section in one location, might show up on shelves in another. Dominion’s brand, President’s Choice has introduced it’s own gluten-free line and these products show in the regular bakery section. At my regular Sobey’s location, delicious Udi’s products show up in the bakery section whereas in other locations I have to go to the “Freaky People” freezer section.

I recommend:

    1. Scoping out the various supermarket chains and various locations to see what products you are interested in.
      When you are ready to restock your pantry, you know exactly where to head to successfully find your favourite products; and
    2. Making note of the days where the natural food shelves/produce/dairy /meat & poultry sections are restocked.
      I find that the poultry section seems to be better stocked on a certain day but there’s a slim chance that I’ll find my favourite variety of Greek yogurt in stock.

Nourish Gluten-Free Bakery

When I was first advised by my “Quack” (i.e. Naturopath) to go gluten-free, the first thing that she recommended was that I check out the newly opened 100% gluten-free bakery, Nourish in Paradise. I enjoy their selection of bagels, tea buns, flatbreads, brownies and various other goodies. I also enjoy Ashley, the owner & operator, who I’ve interacted with on many occasions since I first became a customer. I like that they use all natural ingredients and avoid preservatives. You can purchase from them directly, or you can order a limited number of their products online from Real Food Market which I’ll discuss next. You can also enjoy several of their products when dining out around town. One of the places not mentioned on their list is Post Espresso where you can enjoy several of their tea buns, lemon loaves, coffee cakes and brownies (on occasion) to go with their delicious espresso based drinks.

Real Food Market

I first learned of Real Food Market from my Chiropractor of all places, lol. He had mentioned that he had a patient who was in the process of starting up an online organic market for the St. John’s area and asked if I would like to pass along my info to that person. He couldn’t provide me her name at the time but I did give him permission to share my info and Melissa later contacted me once he mentioned me and the fact that I want to start a restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Melissa has been great to chat both in person and via email.

Real Food Market is an online organic grocery store that either delivers direct to your door, or allows pickup at their warehouse if you prefer. They have a dedicated Gluten-Free section as well as a dedicated Vegetarian/Vegan section. Within the DairyGluten-Free, and  Vegetarian/Vegan sections you’ll also find a Butter & Butter Substitute sub-section. Dairy milk substitutes are found in a sub-section in the Vegetarian/Vegan section. Check out the Vegetarian/Vegan section for all of the available sub-sections.

From my experience, the Gluten-Free section tends to be items that are marketed as gluten-free. I’ve found other products in the non-GF sections that were naturally gluten-free and confirmed to be so after digging further into the companies website/email. Check out the other sections and if there’s something that interests you, do some research to see if it is in fact, safe for you to eat.

Winners Homesense

I would never have thought to check Winners Homesense for Gluten-Free, organic or alternative foods. My neighbour’s sister worked at Winners Homesense in the Avalon Mall for a period of time and she mentioned to me that her sister had said that there were gluten-free items available there. Sure enough, I discovered that they also have a “freaky people aisle”. The only thing is that it’s never consistent. You’ll find that the different locations carry different products and the selection various nearly every single time that you go. If you are there and you see a product that you like, snatch it up! … you’ll never know when you’ll find it in stock again. I liken their selection to that of a “grab bag” or “surprise package”.

I apologize to those of you who have been unsuccessful in finding CocoMira’s products. When I see these in stock … I stock up. I buy whatever is left on the shelves.

As a side note, I have since discovered that you can find Coco Mira products at Chapters (if not in store, it’s available on their website). If I happen to be buying books online from Chapters, I usually top up my order with Coco Mira if I haven’t already reached the free shipping status ;)

Bulk Barn

I had avoided Bulk Barn like the plague after going gluten free … The thought of the bins and potential cross-contamination terrified me. That is, until one day my co-worker asked if I knew that Bulk Barn had a dedicated Gluten-Free Section. My reaction was immediately “Is this a joke??” but sure enough, he advised that they actually have labels to identify the gluten-free item bins and they are all confined to one area. That weekend I checked it out, and not only were there dedicated gluten-free bins of bulk GF flours etc., but they were also carrying other packaged GF goods as well, such as Go-Go Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies which are my new go-to cookie. They have a variety of food alternative products that you can find in their “health food” section.

Health Food Stores

There are several Health Food Stores around the city that you can check out. My favourite would have to be Whole Health … mainly because it’s close to my office and I enjoy dropping in occasionally on my lunch break to pick up some GF snacks for my stash at my desk … and to also chat with Megan, the owner, who I also enjoy. Lovely girl! Other Health Food stores include The Natutral Health Shop on Stavanger Drive, and Food for Thought on Duckworth Street.

Farmer’s Market

The St. John’s Farmer’s Market runs from June to mid December, and have several vendors which cater to various food allergies, one of which is Gluten Free Treasures because 1) the treats are delicious (especially the pumpkin cinnamon rolls!), and 2) Valeria is a sweetheart!

Other regular vendors who cater to dietary restrictions include: A La Tarte! and Le Doyen, to name a few. I DO NOT recommend getting a “Almost Gluten-Free” waffle from The Waffle Lady. She has a gluten-free waffle mix but uses it in the same waffles irons as the regular non-GF waffle mix. Anyone who have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance should not eat them. If you one of those who are eating gluten-free because it’s the new fad diet …. fill your boots. If you are gluten free because your health depends on it, stay away).

Costco

I don’t have a Costco membership myself, but from what my co-workers have told me they carry a lot of GF products, and I’ve seen that on the blog “Living Gluten Free in St. John’s, NL”, Janelle has many posts on gluten-free items that she’s picked up from Costco.

Various Online Websites

Well.ca is one site that a Facebook friend introduced me to. I enjoy that they have a dedicated Specialty Diet section which includes Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Vegan among several other sub-sections. They also provide free shipping on all Canadian orders over $25 (unless you live in a remote area).

The “Buddy System”

If you have friends travelling out of province or out of country, see if they would mind picking up a few items if they stumble across them in their travels. I  have a good friend who I’ve met through the CCA-NL Chapter and every time she travels to Ontario or to the States, she always manages me bring me back some form of gluten-free goody … and if I’m really good,  it might be several goodies … on one occasion she brought me back a basket full of goodies! I also get surprises from my non-GF friends and family as well. There is no shortage of cake mixes in my pantry! ha :)

Canadian Celiac Association Meetings

I’ve been a member of the CCA-NL since June of 2012… and I’ve yet to be to a meeting where I didn’t come home with free stuff. I’ve lost count the number of times that I’ve come home with free pancake-, cake-, pizza-, and bread-mixes. Who doesn’t love FREE??

So, what caused me to compile this useful list? My quest to find Certified GlutenFree Cornbread in the city. It was impossible to find any without a ‘May Contain’ statement. I could find Bob’s Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix, but not the coarser corn meal. I figured that when I was in Toronto recently that I’d be able to find it. The Whole Foods store near my friends house in Toronto were much like St. John’s in that the only versions that they carried had ‘May Contain’ statements. It should be noted that Bob’s Red Mill produces two versions of Corn Meal: a certified GF one and a NON-GF one. It took several attempts while in Toronto to find the GF version and I found it at the 3rd health food store that I visited. They had 2 packages of the Bob’s Red Mill certified GF Corn Meal and I stealthily “squirrelled” them up! :)

I hope that you find this list useful.

Let me know if you’ve found places around town or online that have helped you cope with your food allergies and dietary restrictions. I’d love to hear of them so I can amend this list.

Are you a promiscuous shopper??

2 Food Allergies, Etc. Bloggers to Follow! Celiac and Allergy Adventures + The Allergista

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Originally, I introduced Amanda & The Allergista through a different post (don’t bother to go looking for it. By the time you read this post, the original would have self-destructed). In that original post, I attempted the unthinkable … a reblog of a reblog of a guest post. Surprisingly, it seemed to have worked … for the most part. When you reblog something it takes a snapshot of the post and you can add comments to it. Your post (or reblog) assumes the title of the original post, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. When you reblog a reblog … you are taking a snapshot of the comment which was a part of the original reblog so there is no title for your post (or reblog) to assume. So you end up with a post without a name … or a titleless post. This is what happened to me when I reblogged Amanda’s reblog of her guest post on The Allergista’s blog. And as a result, I was left with a post titled “919” as you can see in this screenshot:

My original post (or, reblog of a reblog of a guest post) which since self-destructed

My original post (or, reblog of a reblog of a guest post) which since self-destructed

And the fact that those 3 little numbers were there instead of an actual title that actually had meaning for people, drove me absolutely crazy. I may be a little OCD. Maybe.

It was also brought to my attention that people wouldn’t be able to “Like”, “Tweet”, “Pin”, “Press”, “Submit”, “Tumbl”, Email, Print, etc. etc. the reblog. The idea that people wouldn’t be able to easily share with the world the blogs of these two fantastical ladies seemed like an epic fail. Both Amanda and The Allergista have incredibly informative blogs which deserve to be passed around the internet for all to enjoy.

If you’re still confused at this point, forget everything I said. I’ll now jump into the important segment of this post:

Say hello to Amanda of Celiac and Allergy Adventures. She recently did a guest post on The Allergista blog. I’ve been following Amanda’s blog now for several months and I thought that she had some excellent tips for the recently diagnosed Celiac in this guest post. In addition to Celiac Disease, Amanda also suffers from food allergies (some severe enough to cause anaphylaxis), asthma and eczema. If you find yourself in the same boat as Amanda …. or simple just suffer from one or two of the above ailments …. then I definitely recommend that you follow her blog!

Amanda’s reblog also introduced me to The Allergista … who suffers from a long list of food and skin allergies. I’ve only been following The Allergista for a few days so my knowledge of her posts are still a bit limited … but according to Amanda’s reblog, The Allergista has very informative posts … especially when it comes to Allergic Contact Dermatitis. She also has a passion for fashion, which actually gets interesting considering her skin allergies.

And get this: The Allergista did a guest post on Amanda’s blog. Which can only mean one thing … They are internet friends!

I really enjoy these two bloggers and their associated blogs. If you aren’t already following them, you’re missing out! Head over to their blogs and check them out! :)

How to “Treat” your Pooch’s food intolerance …

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I’ve read somewhere that dogs often imitate their owners. I can completely agree with this. My dog, Jax, a Lakeland Terrier, has assumed a quirky personality not unlike myself. Another common trait? He seems to have some mild food intolerances/sensitivities that we are still trying to iron out. He was having some gastro issues and was regularly having ear infections in addition to gnawing on his front paws a lot …. things that may be an indication of a food intolerance (so Google researching has told me). I’ve definitely noticed a big improvement since we stopped giving him store bought treats and making natural treats from scratch. We also give him a hypoallergenic kibble, which originally was supposed to be a short term thing while we ironed out what his sensitivity was, but he seemed to be happy enough with it, and I enjoyed the fact that it contained no wheat, so we continued with this particular kibble.

When we first made the switch, we struggled with what to do in terms of rewarding him with a treat. Our vet suggested making treats out of the wet food version of the hypoallergenic kibble. We scoop out small spoonfuls of the wet food onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 deg° F for about an hour. We store them in the fridge and use them within a week of being baked. Jax absolutely loves them!

While Christmas shopping this past Fall, my guy discovered this:

Snoopy's Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook Kit

Knowing how much I enjoy accommodating dietary restrictions and trying to use organic ingredients where possible, he picked this up so that I could make organic, allergen-friendly treats for Jax. I enjoy that the recipes are wheat-, corn- and soy-free. The recipes seem to have a base of oat flour (I blended gluten-free oats to make it into a flour), brown rice flour, an egg and water, while the individual recipes dictate the additional ingredients.  The first few pages are explanatory and even give substitutions if your dog has an egg allergy.

Tonight, I had some leftover pumpkin from making some Pumpkin Corn Muffins, so I used the leftovers to make “The Great Pumpkin” treats for Jax. One of our friends who was visiting at the time said that the dog biscuits smelled amazing.

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I think Jax thought so too!

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Want to make your own organic allergen friendly dog treats? You can purchase online from Chapters: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Snoopys-Organic-Dog-Biscuit-Kit-Snoopy-Snoopy-Bubba-Rose-Biscuit-Company/9781604332896-item.html

Do you have a pet with food allergies/intolerances? If so, how do you deal with them?

“Quack! Quack! Naturopath Attack!”

Good. Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk about my experience with Naturopaths.

The title of this post might mislead you to think that I’m making fun of naturopaths. This is absolutely not the case – there is a story behind the title.

First of all, I enjoy the word Quack. Its on my Favourite Words List (yes, I have a list, and Quack just happens to be on it … along with squirrel (as in to “squirrel away” money), kerchief, marjoram, epiphany and shenanigans).

Secondly, the title is related to an email from my friend, Sharon.

In 2012, about a year after I visited a naturopath for the first time, Sharon was asking about the experience. She was very interested in the test that the naturopath performed and decided to get the contact details from me. She later made an appointment for herself and was extremely excited about her assessment. A few weeks went by and in the same afternoon as her appointment, she sent me an email.

Now, there are two thing that you need to know about Sharon:

  1. she can get excitably enthusiastic about things that interest her
  2. she has a love of rhyming.

So when her email came in describing her excitement of her naturopath experience and her results, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had titled the email “Quack! Quack! Naturopath Attack!” (she said had she had more time, she would have come up with a better title).

Like myself, Sharon loved “the quack”. She had planned on asking her thoughts about a book that she had read called “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” but the naturopath actually brought it up before Sharon had a change to mention it. She also asked if she was tired when checking her adrenals and when Sharon mentioned feeling like she could have a nap in the middle of the day and just attributed it to hating her job, the naturopath went on a long (but positive) rant on how Sharon should quit her job and find something that she loved. Sharon left the appointment feeling incredibly inspired :)

So how did I decide that I should try out a naturopath? I told the story in my previous post “I started a what!?!“. During my initial visit, I was a little skeptical of the apparatus that she used. Perhaps it’s the engineer in me. But I think I’m a little more right-brained than the typical engineer and as a result, I was able to let that out of my mind and just go with the flow. And as I explained in my previous post, she hit the nail on the head with a lot of her results.

I went back to this naturopath several times, and even had my aunt and my guy try them out. My aunt followed her advice for a month or so, but found the restrictions a little hard due to living in a small town and found the remedies that she had to purchase to be expensive. My guy felt similarly about the cost of the remedies and just didn’t have the motivation to avoid all of the things that he had been instructed on. We all left the appointments with a list of all of the things to avoid. And it was a very long list of things. With no real indication of how much these foods affected us. Just a list instructing us to not eat this, this, … and this.

When I was on sick leave from work for depression the first two months of 2012 (see How Our Wedding Indirectly Inspired Food Allergies Etcetera post), I was seeing my psychologist once a week. During this time, I started talking about what I was passionate about and I started talking about my restaurant ideas for a restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and other dietary restrictions. My psychologist found this idea to be extremely interesting and shared with me that she would love if such a place were to open in St. John’s because she is vegetarian but also has extreme chemical sensitivities and can only eat organic foods. Knowing that I was keen on naturopaths, she recommended the naturopath that has treated her. She told me that I would LOVE her because of her emphasis on the foods that we eat to treat our ailments versus expensive remedies. She gave me her contact info but it was months before I actually made an appointment to see her.

I’d like to introduce to you Dr. Eddi Kenny, ND, PhD, RN. Dr. Eddi has over 25 years experience in the health care field and you can find out more about her background on her About Page on her company website Innergy – Center for Health & Stress Management. According to the Innergy website, Dr. Eddi covers:

  • nutritional guidance
  • meridian stress assessment
  • integrative lifestyle
  • whole body & mind balance
  • health management & lifestyle
  • stress management & techniques
  • preventative medicine, and
  • innovative approaches to energy

I think this list should be revised to include “life coach”. Dr. Eddi seems interested in helping you figure out what you need to do when you’ve lost that “spark”.  Not sure what I’m talking about? I’ll give you an example.

Immediately after my first session with Dr. Eddi I immediately thought of two people who would totally benefit from a session with Dr. Eddi. One of which was a work colleague …. lets just call her “Jocelyn”. Jocelyn used to have a lot of pep. But over the years her energy and spirit just seemed to have dissipated. Jocelyn was having a lot of issues and it sounded like they may have been diet related. I used this as a way to weasel in the idea of her making an appointment with Dr. Eddi. And she took the bait! It was some number of weeks before she was able to see Dr. Eddi but when Jocelyn returned to work the next day she seemed very enthusiastic about what Dr. Eddi had recommended. The biggest chance that Jocelyn made based on Dr. Eddi’s advice was to cut out chocolate and dairy as her testing indicated that Jocelyn did not react well to those two particular items. Within a few weeks of following Dr. Eddi’s advice, I noticed that the old “Jocelyn” was finally starting to emerge. Her energy was returning, she didn’t appear to be as negative in her thoughts, she was getting more easily excited. She was so happy about the positive results and there was a sudden influx of energy. On times it seemed like she was hyper, there were so many things bouncing around in her head. I really knew that the old Jocelyn was back when she came into my office and told me that she was taking drum lessons. And was loving it! It was great to finally see Jocelyn feeling happy again because the old Jocelyn had been away for far too long. Dr. Eddi was instrumental in helping Jocelyn find her spark again! :)

I also made an appointment recently for my guy to see Dr. Eddi for an assessment. He’s been complaining of digestive issues for months, has had very little energy, trouble sleeping, and just didn’t feel balanced in life. I wasn’t too sure about how he was going to find the session, but he actually came out of it very positively and was ready to do what Dr. Eddi suggested and actually has carried through with making those necessary changes. He’s starting out slow but so far has been able to stick to the first few changes that he made. He also felt like Dr. Eddi was coaching him more than directing him like he felt like with the previous naturopath.

The assessment that is performed is a Meridian Stress Assessment. It’s also known as a bio-energetic/electro dermal screening. Basically it uses acupressure points on the body and the results are inputted into a computer analysis in order to give a detailed evaluation of your body’s imbalances, according to Dr. Eddi’s webpage. I like that you can see the testing as it is happening, which was different from the session with the previous naturopath where it was all performed behind your back. At the end, Dr. Eddi prints out a report and goes through it in detail with you. It also gives you a visual to help you quickly see the areas in which your body is balanced, weakened or stressed, which I really liked because you get a feel for how much the items actually affect you. With the other naturopath, we were simply instructed to stay away without a real sense for how much it negatively affected us.

Partial view shown for an indication of the results generated from my Meridian Stress Assessment

Partial view shown for an indication of the results generated from my Meridian Stress Assessment

Above is a partial snapshot of each page of the report. The left hand of each page is cut off but I more or less included it to give an indication of the possible number of readings versus showing the particular items that were tested for me, personally. One thing that I noticed was that there were differences between what was reported on my report versus my guy’s report. This is because the analysis is catered to the individual based on her initial conversations with the patient. The first thing that the report displays is your base point readings. It’s basically an indication of how the various systems in your body (e.g. Endocrine system, nervous system, lungs, intestines, skin, pancreas, kidneys, joints, etc.) are functioning. The report then lists your “holds” readings. The categories tested will vary from person to person, but in my case it included various hormones, acids, minerals, food groups/categories,  vertebrae stresses, and fungual readings. Apparently right now I have an issue with yeast and acidity and she recommended that I do a cleanse to help clear it up. I’m actually starting Renew Life Cleanse Smart this week, which I recently picked up from Whole Health, so I’ll be interested in seeing how well the product worked when I return for a follow-up session.

The other thing that I really liked was instead of prescribing certain supplements or remedies, she just advised us how to eat better so that we could compensate in the areas that our body was weakened. For example, the results showed that my circulation was weakened so she advised me to eat more “warming” foods such as using cumin, curry, cayenne, cardamom, turmeric, etc. in our meals. She also advised me to incorporate more avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, chia seeds and hemp hearts into my diet in order to boost up my Omega fatty acids. My iron was also low so she suggested foods to incorporate to boost my iron levels.

Dr. Eddi was also talked a lot with me about finding passion in my life and was thrilled when I told her of my recent meltdown and (well, it wasn’t necessarily the meltdown that she was thrilled about, but) how I had used that experience to become more in tune with what my mind and body need and that I’ve become more self-aware. She also enjoyed my ideas for my future restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Like I said earlier, I feel like Dr. Eddi is not just a naturopath, but a life coach to boot!

The sessions can be quite expensive so check with your health insurance to see if naturopathic/homeopathic assessments are covered. If your insurance covers it, and you can afford it, I highly recommend setting up an appointment with Dr. Eddi …. especially if you’re feeling a bit lost, out of sorts, and not quite sure what else to do to get your life back on track. I’m more than positive that she’ll be able to get your health and stress back on track!!

Cheers to our physical & mental health!

Krista.

Free For All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes

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I ordered this cookbook quite some time ago with the intention of trying out some new recipes. It only took about a year later and one “snowpocalypse” to attempt my first recipe from it. The result? Deliciousness! … But I’ve saved the details for a separate post :)

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I discovered this cookbook, along with several others that I have yet to try out, from the Living Without Website. A list of all their cookbooks that are available for sale are found here: http://www.livingwithout.com/products/ … The magazine is a US publication and there is usually a link for Canadian purchases, which can mean higher prices but most always means higher shipping costs. I’d recommend checking out Chapters.ca or Amazon.ca to see if you can find a better deal, as you can combine with other products and receive free shipping if you cart total is usually above $25 (or some other determined amount).

What I like about this cookbook is that it is broken into two parts:

Part I: Essentials for Gluten-Free Baking

Part II: The Recipes

The majority of Part I is dedicated to ingredients and substitutions. Jules starts out by giving an overview of the items that one might find in their pantry which are basic/naturally gluten-free. She then gives a list of safe, gluten-free ingredients (such as grains, pseudocereals, beans, etc.) and then follows up with a list of evil non-gluten-free grains and other ingredients to avoid.

One of the most useful parts of the book is the Handy Substitution Guide. The guide starts out talking about Flour and how Jules devised her Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Blend. It then discusses other premixed blends, as well as making your own gluten-free blend.

She then lists other gluten-free ingredients that you should keep on hand, such as baking powder, baking soda, yeast, sugar and sweeteners, gluten-free oats/cereals/chips,  as well as flax seeds. She gives an overview of each one, lists several brands that she has used, and also makes some references to use in recipes found throughout the book.

Egg substitutes are the next topic and one that I thought was presented very well. She briefly discusses store-bought egg replacers but goes into great detail about homemade egg replacers. She gives a recipe for 12 different egg replacer recipes and groups them according to what they are best suited for:

  • Quick-breads
  • Yeast breads
  • Batters
  • Pancakes
  • Cakes
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Savory Dishes
  • Replacing Egg Yolks
  • Frying foods or browning crusts

Dairy and soy substitutes are also presented. Substitutes for milk, buttermilk, Half-and-Half/heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, yogurt/sour cream, butter/shortening, cheese/cream cheese, ice-cream/whipped cream are explained with recipes for non-dairy evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk given.

Nut substitutes are explained and are broken out according to whether you are looking for the nutty texture, or the nutty taste.

Jules then discusses alcohols in baking. She notes that although distilled alcohols are gluten-free, you need to be weary of added flavourings. She also discusses use of gluten-free beers in her recipes, as well as flavour extracts.

My favourite part of the book is that there are food restriction icons for each recipe which include: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free or Vegetarian. Many of the recipes are possible this way because Jules highlights the option for substitution. For example, for many of the egg replacements she suggests which Egg Replacer recipe to use which will save you time when executing the recipe! :)

Part I is then capped off with some baking notes … which I thought came in handy. For example, I had no idea that kneading gluten-free doughs actually do more harm than good (…. Good tip, Jules! Thanks)

Once you’ve digested (figuratively, of course) all of this info, it’s time to jump into the next stage of actual digestion – the recipe execution!! Part II is broken out into:

  • Breakfast Foods
  • Appetizers & Side Dishes
  • Breads & Rolls
  • Soups
  • Main Events; and last but not least
  • Desserts (the largest section! Jules, you know the way to a girl’s heart!)

This cookbook looks fantastic and should give those with food allergies and food intolerances the ability to enjoy fantastic meals and treats without having to worry about their safety or digestion woes!!

As I try out recipes from this cookbook, I’ll update with links below!

If you are currently using this cookbook, please share what your favourite recipes are! 

Happy Baking/Cooking & Eating!!

Krista.

Little Miss Busy 4

Grand Plans … Too Busy … and There’s Another Go-To-Girl in Town …

I have grand plans for this blog. Grand. But finding the time to work on blog posts when you’re guy has (appropriately) coined you with the nickname “Little Miss Busy” can be difficult. My guy always tells me that I take on too much. But being busy and helping others is what makes me happy :)

Eventually I’ll find my groove when it comes to maintaining a balance on my work and life commitments, so that I can work on my goals for the blog and I’ll truly be successful with maintaining my title of “Go-To-Gates” (as explained in the My Intentions post). But in the meantime, I discovered that there already is a Go-To-Girl living in St. John’s who has been able to find the time to write regular product and restaurant reviews AND has been doing so since January of this year. At first I was a little discouraged that I wasn’t able to find the time to be as active as Janelle, and I felt like I wasn’t worthy of the Go-To title when it comes to living gluten-free in St. John’s. But then I realized that I didn’t have to be the sole local Go-To-Girl and even if we did, at some point, blog about the same product, restaurant or topic …… that no one has ever said “No, I’d hate a second opinion”.

So with that, I’ll send you over to Janelle’s blog, conveniently titled Living Gluten Free in St. John’s, Newfoundland where you’ll find reviews galore.

Happy Reading!!

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The 2012 Toronto Gluten Free Expo

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Holy Crap is right! ;-)

One of the most exciting things that I’ve done this year (to date) was attend the Gluten Free Expo in Toronto a few weeks ago, on September 30th.

As stated on the Expo’s Facebook Page:

“The Gluten Free Expo is Canada’s first, and largest gluten free event. Whether you’re looking for great tasting products, or Gluten Free education, the Expo is your source!”

…. and I can attest that whoever made that statement, was not kidding! :)

The Toronto 2012 Expo was the first for Canada. Details are available on the Expo’s website for the upcoming Vancouver Expo on January 13th 2013 as well as the Calgary Expo which is happening on March 24th 2013.

When I first heard of the Gluten Free Expo and realized that there would be over 100 exhibitors present, I thought to myself:

“If I get excited about 2 to 3 gluten free vendors at our local market … and tickled pink by 5 to 10 gluten free vendors when I visited the Halifax Farmer’s market, then I should be in Heaven with 100+ gluten free vendors at the Gluten Free Expo!”

And I was! The only problem was that I had limited room in my luggage to bring back items!

The Expo was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on 655 Dixon Road and I decided that I should fly to Toronto the day before just in case I might encounter some flight delays. Of course, the cheapest flight that day was scheduled to depart St. John’s at just before 6AM … so I was up at 4 in the morning to get ready. During the month previous to flying to Toronto, I had been emailing back and fourth with Ellen of The Celiac Scene and knew that she was involved in the organization of the Expo. At that point in time I didn’t know if I would be attending the Expo but I was later able to confirm that I could take a few vacation days. I knew that Ellen was busy with getting everything ready for the Expo so I didn’t bother to email her back to let her know that I was heading up for the Expo. When I arrived at the hotel, I emailed her to let her know that I was there and gave her my cell number and room number in case she wanted to reach me and we could finally meet. She replied and said that she must not have updated me to let me know that she didn’t come for the Expo, and that she was staying in BC to man the phones and emails. She felt so bad that I was expecting to meet her while I was there that she decided to connect me with Margaret, the Expo Event Manager. I went downstairs to meet Margaret and discovered what a lovely girl she was! She ended up being short a volunteer so I spent the day from around 3ish to 10pm volunteering with registering the exhibitors as they came in. It was a very long but interesting day. By 10pm only about 50% of the exhibitors had arrived to set up, which means that the next day was going to be super busy from the start! I texted Ellen a couple of photos throughout the evening and was able to chat back and forth with her through email on my iPhone which was nice. When I got back to my room that night Ellen called me and we had a nice chat about how things were going and the excitement of it all! :)

The next morning was the day of the Expo and I was supposed to meet up with a friend (Laura) at 11am so that we could go to the Expo together. I was ready to go at 10 AM (when the Expo actually opened), so I decided to go down and help out until Laura showed up. Margaret gladly accepted my offer to help out again :)

Who knew that so many people would show up first thing in the morning! The first photo in the above collage is of the line-ups at 10am, and the second photo is around an hour later. Bright green reusable shopping bags were available for the first 2000 people and just after 11 AM we realized that we had run out of bags!! In just over an hour 2000 people had come through. It was crazy (of the good variety)! At one point, we were told that we had to hold people up at the registration because they had reached capacity in the exhibitors area and couldn’t let anyone else in until some had left. People were getting disgruntled because they didn’t get a free shopping bag, and had to wait before they could get in. There were several pretty grumpy people in the lines, but once they got inside and started getting some samples, they seemed to have come around. We were hearing a lot of great comments from people. With 5600 people coming through that day, Margaret said that she is going to plan an even bigger event for next year. I’m hoping to get involved with future expo events because I find these types of events to be really fun to get involved in. Large events like this can be madness, but being involved with successfully putting it off can be really satisfying!

I didn’t actually get to see any of the speakers because I spent most of my time down around the registration area, which was bad planning on my part, and I hope to plan my breaks better the next time I’m involved so that I can take in a few of the speakers :)

It was so nice to get to finally connect with Ellen (though phone rather than just email) and we chatted several times that weekend …. not just about the Expo, but also about how I started down this path and all the events that led me here. And it was so nice to meet Margaret! That girl does not buckle under pressure and is such a lovely person! My favourite part was when exhibitors would come up and ask to speak with Margaret and I would point to her just a few feet away from me engaged in conversation with other exhibitors or hotel staff and the response was always a surprised “Noooo waaaaayyyy ….!” Many had only spoken with her on the phone and I can only assume had envisioned her to be an older person with more life experience, lol. I got such a kick out of their responses! Once they met her, she definitely lived up to their expectations! :)

The Expo didn’t actually go as I expected, but it was a fantastic experience. I was actually chatting with the owner of a restaurant in Uxbridge, Ontario called Frankie’s Ristorante that’s completely gluten-free, as well as nut-free and soy free. I think I’ll consult with them when planning my allergy friendly restaurant as that chapter in my life unfolds :)

And now to share with you some of the goodies that I brought back with me. I tended to stay away from products that I was familiar with and knew that I could purchase back in Newfoundland.

I thought this kettle corn was delicious! I met Teresa & Tony of TnT Enterprises who started a side business for something fun to do. They are actually both forklift drivers and they said that they had no idea how much fun that they were going to have getting into the kettlecorn business. They actually do a lot of sales as part of fundraising programs for schools which I thought was neat. They love going to events like the Expo and are full of life. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them during the set up, at their booth during the Expo and even while checking out of the hotel the next day (that’s when they handed me a second sample of their popcorn for the flight)! They love to tell everyone that the product is just four simple ingredients: corn, oil, raw sugar and a little bit of salt. I forgot to ask them what they use to dye some of the popcorn with for their Harvest package as well as any other times that coloured pieces are required (such as school colours for fundraising campaigns).

I was excited to see a product that resembled two-bite brownies!! I sampled one (and then another) while chatting with Edward, the president of the company. He was explaining how Nutri-Health’s products were originally designed by a dietician for patients in hospitals and seniors homes and that they started to notice a demand for their products. You can check them out at www.nutri-health.ca

The bottom cookie was made by a company called Sweets from the Earth. Their products are all natural, 100% vegan, refined sugars free, GMO free, etc. etc. and there are two options: 1) peanut & nut free; or 2) gluten & wheat free (depending on one of the two dedicated facilities that the item is prepared in). You can check them out at www.sweetsfromtheearth.com

The Scrumdelicious Cookies mix is from 1-2-3 Gluten Free (one of the Expo’s sponsors). Kim, the founder of 1-2-3 Gluten Free products had used this cookie mix to make pumpkin cookies. She had me at the word pumpkin before I even sampled it! I can’t wait to try out this mix later this month to make Halloween cookies (Post-blog post update: check out the blog post on the cookies here)! This was just one of many products from this company which are made in a dedicated gluten/dairy/peanut & tree nut/egg/soy – free facility. All products with the exception of 2 (biscuits and corn bread) are also corn-free. The products are GMO free, large-yield, and all natural. 3 of the mixes are sugar free (in which you add your sweetener of choice). You can check out the other products at www.123glutenfree.com

I discovered CocoMira products at Winners Homesense. The only thing is that the products are never consistently stocked …. either that, or when someone finds this product on the shelves, they buy all of it for themselves and leave none for anyone else (as I do when I find it). So I was super excited to find their booth at the Expo! I grabbed my favourite, Mocha Latte Crunch, but also picked up the Dark Chocolate Crunch as well. I would have picked up more but I knew that there was limited space in my luggage! CocoMira products contain no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives, no high-fructose corn syrup, no gluten and no egg. I just discovered by checking out their website that they are carried in some Chapters/Indigo stores as well as some Second Cup locations (the only two locations local to St. John’s)!! I shall have a look the next time I am at Chapters and Second Cup!! :) You can check out the other CocoMira products on their website, www.cocomira.com

Last, but not least, I discovered this fantastic Nutty Pumpkin Harvest granola! This stuff is fantastic! I was so sad that I only picked up one package! Turns out that you can buy a package of 12 for $40 (+ 25.20 in shipping and taxes). The granola is also dairy, soy and corn free in addition to gluten free. I also picked up a jar of Organic Cinnamon Vanilla Almond Butter by the same brand/company and it was taken from me at security because the security officer considered it more liquid like than paste like. The almond butter goes for $120 (+ 35.60 in shipping and tax) for 12 (minimum order). To check out other similar products go to www.totalwellbeing.ca

Because some of the ingredients in the granola is organic (not all are stated to be organic) I contacted Real Food Market to see if they might be able to bring in this product. I’ll keep you posted on the results once I hear back! :)

In addition to food products to be sampled and purchased, there were also several other informational type booths. I think that one of my favourites was the t-shirts at this booth! It was a company that I had never heard of before called Olli Lolli. I love these shirts …. especially the one for the “Everything Kid” …. you know, the kid that has developed allergies to nearly everything. At least these t-shirts can help spread awareness of their allergies and I discovered that this company also sells clothing (for example, cargo pants, hoodies, and jackets) to help carry their allergy medication so that they have it with them at all times. Check out their products at www.ollilolli.com

Another booth that was present was Allerbling, which is a wristband that is a unique medical ID bracelet, and is customizable by you, at any time, based on your child’s changing food allergic conditions. It displays the iconic symbols of the food products that are risky to the children, so their teachers and caregivers can be constantly reminded at a glance. Check them out at www.allerbling.com

Other booths that were of interest to me (and that I managed to get time to stop by and see) were as follows:

Mila: Loaded with Omega—3s, Fiber, anti-oxidants and many other vital nutrients, Mila® offers a variety of opportunities to improve your overall health and well being. It can also be deliciously combined with many foods as it has no taste or smell and its biological properties are not diminished by heat in the baking process making it easy to incorporate into your favorite recipes. They didn’t have any thing to sample the seeds with so I opted not to pick any up as I had limited room in my luggage but its definitely something that I want to look into more. Check out the product at http://home.lifemax.net/mila/the-miracle-seed

Lotus Fine Foods: Offers two forms granola that is organic, vegan, dairy free, gluten free and free of artificial flavours, colours, trans fat, preservatives and refined sugar; 1) Coconut & Cherry Quinoa, and 2) Cranberry & Cinnamon Quinoa. Check out their products at http://lotusfinefoods.com/

Bubbie’s Biscotti: If you follow the link to their site, you might realize that the gluten free biscotti varieties are carried at Second Cups around St. John’s. The two Gluten-free flavours are Chocolate Chip and Belgian Chocolate Marble. Don’t forget that they are also peanut and nut free! Check them out at http://bubbiesbiscotti.ca

Frankie’s Ristorante: As I mentioned above, located in Uxbridge, Ontario. Patrons will find both Celiac-friendly food and a peanut- and nut-free environment, as well as vegetarian, vegan and some sugar-free pastries for diabetic patrons every day. They also have a gluten free bakery which supplies the restaurant. Check them out if you ever find yourself in the Uxbridge area, as well as their website: http://www.glutenfreefrankies.com. This is definitely one place on my restaurants-to-visit list!! :)

Crepe-alicious: A European Restaurant which serves European favourites, Savoury Crepes, Breakfast Crepes, Vegetarian Crepes, Sweet Crepes and Paninis. All crepes can be made gluten free for an additional cost and there are several items that can also be requested to be gluten free. Their menu looks great but unfortunately they do not have a website (from what I can tell). The best that I could find was the listing on Urbanspoon: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/242/1683405/restaurant/Ontario/Crepe-alicious-Hamilton

Goodbye Gluten Fine Foods: Canada’s first 100% Gluten-free food store offering:
Fresh baked goods from its gluten-free, nut free, and dairy free bakery; Fresh prepared foods made on premises in its gluten free and nut free kitchen, and features a wide assortment of appetizers, salads, sides and main courses in Grab n’ Go format (fresh or frozen) or from the display counter; Grocery items including Nut-free, Dairy-free, Egg Free, Soy Free, Sugar Free, Salt Free and Vegan products; Catering.
Sounds like a fantastic place! Check them out at http://www.goodbyegluten.com

And last, but not least, Alyce Feindel (who was a delight to chat with and is from the Maritimes … Chester, Nova Scotia to be exact) was there selling copies of her cook book “Living and Eating Gluten Free”. Alyce also did one of the talks that I unfortunately missed but I enjoyed chatting with her during the set-up period on Saturday night as well as the day of the Expo.You can check out Alyce on her website www.glutenfreeforlife.com

This is just a small sample of the exhibitors who were present on the day of the Expo. For a complete list of the exhibitors who were there, check out http://glutenfreeexpo.ca/toronto-exhibitors-sponsors/.

I loved everything about the Expo! Engaging with Ellen via phone/email, meeting and helping out Margaret, visiting with my friend, Laura, while we perused the various exhibitors, sampling and buying delicious products, and realizing that I could stop myself when entering gluten-intolerant “robot” mode where I automatically ask the person serving me “and you’re certain that this is gluten-free right??” …. EVERYTHING was gluten-free. And it was absolutely awesome!!