Two Pastas. One Way.

One of my favourite types of pizza is margherita…anyone with me? The simple flavour combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella on dough is so fresh and delicious.

It’s also amazing in pasta form, but sub-in parmesan for the moz. SO good and so simple to make.

I recently tried two new gluten-free pastas and am so excited to share you with them: Chickapea Pasta and NuPasta.

Chickapea Pasta is made with only two ingredients, organic chickpeas and organic lentils. Nothing. Else. It’s packed with protein, at 23g of protein per serving, and has 11g of fibre. If you’re craving a traditional “white” pasta, this isn’t going to help your craving…this stuff is dense! Dense but flavourful. It’s nutty, rich and the texture is a bit like a whole grain pasta. I really love this pasta and I love the fact it comes with protein.

NuPasta is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Super low in protein and extra low in calories. This low calorie pasta is what makes it appealing. One package of this pasta (which is 210g) is only 25 calories! So for those who want a huge plate of pasta…this might be your new best friend. This low cal pasta is made with konjac, a plant similar to yams and taro, however, without the starch or calories.

Both pastas tasted great with the topping and was super easy to whip up for a quick dinner. 

Margherita Pasta

Serves 4

1 box gluten free pasta (or four packages of NuPasta – each package is one serving)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup parmesan
8 basil leaves, shredded

Cook the pasta. Simmer the sauce. Top the pasta with the sauce, parmesan and basil. Bam! Easy, right?

Enjoy!

NuPasta

Chickapea Pasta

PUR is 100% Pure

A few years ago I reviewed Toronto-based PUR – a company that makes naturally-sweet gum and mints. The gum and mints are sweetened with 100% xylitol…no refined sugar or aspartame! The products are also vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut and peanut-free. When I reviewed their products in 2014 they only had a few flavours of gum…now in 2017 they have a bunch more flavours AND delicious mints. Read on….!



I was so happy to review their whole line and it’s so nice to enjoy gum and mints that are 100% pure. Did you know that xylitol is recommended by dentists to reduce plaque build-up and wash away bacteria? Pretty neat. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of natural gum companies where the flavour lasts for 10 seconds and the gum gets stuck to my teeth. Not PUR though. The flavour lasts much longer and the consistency is like “normal” gum. I love it!

PUR has the normal line-up of gum flavours, including Coolmint, Spearmint, Wintergreen, Peppermint, Bubblegum and Cinnamon…but they also have Chocolate Mint and Pomegranate Mint. Have you ever had Chocolate Mint gum? I’m a huge fan of peppermint chocolate, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it in the form of gum. I love it though. It’s sweet but refreshing. The Pomegranate Mint is also delicious. It has a hint of berry with a cool mint flavour in the background.

I love the mints too. The line-up includes: Spearmint, Peppermint, Polar Mint, Mojito Lime and Tangerine Tango. I love the Mojito Lime. It certainly reminds me of the delicious summer cocktail. All of the mints are super refreshing and I love that they are also naturally sweetened, free of common allergens and made with the highest quality ingredients.

PUR is a super pure company. It’s awesome to see a company that has such strong beliefs to create a product that is safe for all to consume. Not only do they accommodate those with food allergies/sensitivities but PUR is diabetic friendly, as xylitol is one of the lowest sweeteners on the glycemic index.

You can find PUR Gum and Mints in the majority of health food grocery stores, but I’ve also seen them at the counters at HomeSense and Winners (or you can shop online). I definitely recommend them…one of my favourite companies out there!

Disclaimer: I was provided with PUR Gum and Mints in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not included by PUR in any way!

Christmas Cocktails

Less than TWO weeks until Christmas! Can you believe it??? I am so excited. It will be my first Christmas as a Mrs. and I am so looking forward to starting new traditions with my husband!

As we all know, the holidays are full of fun food, and drinks and quite often we are ready to start eating cleaner in the new year. Instead of going full-out crazy on the cocktails this holiday season, there are a few swaps that you can do to make your drink consumption a little more “healthier”.

Meet coconut water…it may just be your best friend this holiday season. Coconut water is rich in nutrients, including five essential electrolytes: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium; it only has 5 g of natural sugar per glass (much better than juice or pop) and it ‘s low in calories (42 calories per serving). It took me a while to warm up to coconut water, but when it’s chilled over ice it’s very refreshing and makes a perfect base for a cocktail.

Try these three drinks this Christmas season. They’re beautiful, delicious and a tiny bit nutritious (they’re also gluten-free…yay!).

The Coconut Rum

1 ounce of rum
Top up with Thirsty Buddha Coconut Water
Add a couple ice cubes
Voila!

Vodka Cran Coconut

1 ounce of vodka (make sure it’s gluten-free – I like Tag Vodka)
Top of up with 1/2 Thirsty Buddha Coconut Water
& 1/2 cranberry juice
Add a couple ice cubes

Try making pomegranate ice cubes for some holiday flare. Simply add pomegranate seeds to the ice cube tray before you fill it up!

Vodka Coconut

1 ounce of vodka
Top up with Thirsty Buddha Coconut Water
Add a couple ice cubes
…a variation of vodka soda

Try them out – I bet you’ll love them!


 

 

 

 

What are your favourite healthy swaps during the holidays?

Hearty Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup and Gluten Free Toast

 

 

 

 

Chicken soup with Glutino Multigrain Bread

With the colder weather here, my body has been craving warm soups and stews. Today all I wanted was a homemade bowl of chicken soup, so I whipped some up when I got home from work. This recipe is super easy and takes about an hour to make. The result is delicious!

Hearty Chicken Soup

1 cup water
1 box Imagine® Organic Free Range Chicken Broth 
2 large carrots (chopped)
1/2 onion (minced)
1 clove of minced garlic
1/2 bundle of asparagus (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
15 mini potatoes (chopped into quarters)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes (or until the juices run clear).

While the chicken is cooking, place the carrots and potatoes into a large pot or dutch oven and simmer in 1 cup of water. After 10-15 minutes pour the full box of Imagine® Organic Free Range Chicken Broth into the pot and add the onion, garlic, and asparagus.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, cut into cubes and add to the soup. Stir in the parsley and voila, a delicious hearty soup! Makes 4-6 servings. 

This was the first time I tried Imagine’s gluten-free chicken broth and wow is it delicious! It’s so flavourful and full of great ingredients. Not only is it gluten-free but dairy-free, non-GMO and organic. Definitely a must try. It might be the best boxed chicken broth I’ve ever had.

Chicken soup

 

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Hello Libre!

Do you remember Nonuttin? They’re by far my favourite gluten-free granola bars out there. Well, in early November they launched their new rebrand in Canada from Nonuttin’ to Libre Naturals. The name change reflects their growth beyond a nut free product. They are free of the 11 top common food allergens, including gluten, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy and sulphites. They’re also vegan and non-GMO. A pretty amazing brand.

Libre Naturals Granola Bar

The best part is that they taste amazinggggg. I’ve had plenty of allergen-friendly granola bars and they’re either too small or tasteless. But these are the perfect size and they are just so delicious. The Chocolate Chip flavour reminds me so much of Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bars, which used to be one of my go-to purse snacks when I wasn’t gluten-free.

Along with Libre Naturals re-brand, they also launched a new flavour of granola bar, the Red Berry bar. The granola bar includes strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. It’s very good… I love it.

I used to buy these granola bars as single bars, which was kind of a pain as it would have been great to buy them in bulk, but now they come in five packs. So happy!

The line of granola bars includes four flavours: Chocolate Chip, Apple Cinnamon, Double Chocolate Chip and Red Berry. They’re all delicious, there isn’t one flavour I don’t like, but my top three favourites are Chocolate Chip, Red Berry and Apple Cinnamon.

They’re my favourite mid-morning snack. The bars are 110-120 calories, 18-19 grams of carbs, 4-5 grams of sugar and 2-3 grams of protein. and they’re the exact same size as Quaker Chewy Bars!

These granola bars are SO good that Libre Naturals has a risk-free online guarantee. If you don’t like their products, they’ll refund your purchase price within 30 days from the date of your order.

 

Libre Naturals Granola Bar

Libre Naturals also has delicious Oatmeal Cups. They’re of course gluten-free and also free of the top allergens. There are four delicious flavours: Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins & Spices; Apples & Cinnamon (which are both my favourite flavours); Blueberries & Cranberries; and Blueberries, Apples & Sunflower Seeds. I love these at work. You simply just add hot water, seal it back up with the lid and wait four minutes until the oats have absorbed all the water. They are the best!  They’re also all under 300 calories and 65 g of whole grain carbs per serving.

Libre Naturals Oatmeal Cup

A very cool thing about Libre Naturals is that they are pioneers in G12 testing. G12 is an amino acid strand that is found in a subspecies of pure oats, which is known to be a trigger for some with celiac disease. It’s great that Libre Naturals tests for G12, as it allows all celiacs to eat the oatmeal, granola and granola bars without any worry of reacting.

Check out Libre Naturals handy store locator to find out where you can purchase their products, or simply just buy online!

Have you tried Libre Naturals? What is your favourite flavour!?

This review is based on my experiences with Libre Naturals; however Libre Naturals has graciously provided the products free of charge as the only compensation for this review.

Gluten-Free Halloween Candy: What Can I Eat?

Another Halloween has come and gone. I hope you all got lots of good treats!

As kids, my sister and I used to dump all our candy on the living room floor and sort our goods into piles. Candy we loved, candy we’d share with our parents (which was candy we usually didn’t love…sorry Mom and Dad!) and candy that was no good. At that time, I never had to worry about what candy I couldn’t have.

Now as an adult I realize Halloween candy can be slim picking when it comes to what is allergen friendly.

Thankfully there are great websites that list all candy that is gluten-free, check out VeryWell.com to see what is safe to eat in your Halloween stash!

safe-halloween-candy

Why the teal pumpkin? The teal pumpkin symbolizes The Teal Pumpkin Project – an initiative to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of safe treats for all trick-or-treaters. Next year remember to support this project, check out the link here.

New Blog: DeclutterSimply.com

The past few months year have been crazy-busy for me (and my family), as we were busy planning my wedding – which happened just over three weeks ago!

On top of the wedding plans, work has been busy, we moved into a new home and I launched a second blog…decluttersimply.com.

Busy but exciting times.

declutter simply is a blog dedicated to decluttering the mind, body and space for a stress-free life. I’m so excited about it! My new blog doesn’t mean that I’m saying goodbye to The Gut Gazette…I will still be just as involved…I just realized I needed another platform to share my love of organization, decor, and beauty on a different platform…which is why I created declutter simply.

One of my first blog posts up on declutter simply is all about THE TEN SPOT’s new CF Shops at Don Mills location. Why? Because THE TEN SPOT is awesome for not only reducing stress, and promoting a feel-good service, but for cleanliness (aka – no dirt, no grime…no clutter). I don’t see clutter as just odds and ends scattered on a counter top or found in a drawer, I view clutter in the form of negative energy and emotions; unhealthy food, chemicals and additives; and anything that just doesn’t belong…anything that hinders a negative atmosphere.

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Head over to decluttersimply.com to check out my review of THE TEN SPOT!

Now that things are calming down on my end, I can’t wait to get back into blogging!

The IMAGINE Network Project

Earlier in the year I woke up at the crack of dawn with excited butterflies flying around my stomach. I got myself organized and then got in my car to make my way from Toronto to McMaster University in Hamilton.

As I sat in my car with the smell of exhaust coming from the traffic in front of me, the sound of the rain pitter-pattering on the roof and the radio on low, I practiced my speech and made sure I sat up straight as to not winkle my dress.

Once I arrived at McMaster, I found my way to the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute and sat in the green room with a few doctors, researchers and Canada’s Minister of Health – Jane Philpott – awaiting for the event to begin. Once 9:30 a.m. came around, we made our way to the atrium and sat alongside various researchers, doctors, health organizations and members of the press. On March 31st I was part of a national research announcement as the lead patient representative for a multi-million dollar McMaster patient oriented research project called the Imagine Network, which stands for Inflammation, Microbiome and Alimentation: Gastro-intestinal and neuropsychiatric effects.

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Myself and Dr. Paul Moayyedi

Did you know that over 20 million Canadians suffer with digestive disorders?

The IMAGINE network project will be researching and developing innovative therapies for irritable bowel syndrome (known as IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (known as IBD, which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) to better understand the brain-gut connection and the role diet has on digestive diseases. The researchers on this project believe IBD and IBS are caused by an immune response to disturbances in the gut bacteria – brought on by diet and neuropsychiatric effects, like anxiety and depression. Therefore, patients will play a large role in helping to shape the outcomes of this research.

I myself am one of the 20 million Canadians with a digestive disorder. In 2008 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, one of the two diseases categorized under IBD. It’s an auto immune disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system. Along with Crohn’s, I also have symptoms of IBS, which is a non-inflammatory, functional disorder of the colon. When I was first diagnosed I had no clue what Crohn’s was – neither did most of my family or friends. I was also in my first year of university and felt incredibly alone with the diagnosis. Not only did nobody know what Crohn’s was, but it isn’t a disease that people really like to talk about.

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The Honorable Jane Philpott, Myself, Filomena Tassi and Dr. Paul Moayyedi

At university I would see support groups for students with diabetes, anxiety and other various health concerns, but there wasn’t anything for students with digestive issues. The more I talked about my diagnosis, the more people I came across who had some sort of a digestive issue – or who know of someone with one. It was then that I realized I had to step up and organize a digestive disorder support group at the university. That was my first step in becoming an advocate for digestive health. Now, eight years later, I had the privilege of helping shape the research proposal, which was accepted by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and I had the honour of standing in front of hundred of influential people, to explain the importance of this research for Canadian patients.

As a patient, I can vouch for the importance of better understanding the role that the brain has on the gut and vice versa. When I’m feeling anxious, nervous or stressed, my gut will react and when I’m having a flare up or my IBS is acting up, I will feel anxious. I’m also a huge believer in the role diet plays, because for me certain foods elicit a flare up with my Crohn’s – gluten being a big HUGE trigger.

For the next five years I’ll be working alongside the lead researcher of this project, Dr. Paul Moayyedi, Director of the division of gastroenterology at McMaster University and Dr. Stephen Vanner, Director of gastrointestinal disease research at Queen’s University, along with many other gastroenterologists in Canada and various patients.

It’s a very exciting time in digestive health research. Taking the time to better understand the role that bacteria plays and the connection of the brain and gut are huge strides forward into hopefully finding a cure for IBD and IBS.

Watch below to listen to myself and Dr. Moayyedi provide an overview of the network and an appreciation for receiving the funding.

For more information on this exciting research, check out the Canadian Institute of Health Research’s informative article here.

A Canadian Sunscreen Company

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This year has certainly been a sunscreen kind of summer! The one thing I have always disliked about sunscreen is the feeling of pure grease that lingers on my skin…it definitely doesn’t do my pores any favours.

I’ve come across a few really good brands that don’t feel greasy and don’t make me feel like I need to scrub my face before I breakout, but I’ve never been a fan of the quality of ingredients in them.

A couple months ago I was on one of my favourite beauty blogger’s websites (Beauty Editor) and thought I’d see what her go-to sunscreen was. She recommended CyberDERM. I read up on the company and not only was intrigued by the fact that there isn’t any gluten in their products and that their ingredients are pure, but that they are a Canadian company founded by Canadian physicians, Denis Dudley and Sharyn Laughlin. CyberDERM categorizes themselves as a ‘new’ school of sunscreen formulas, created with handpicked, unique ingredients that are beneficial to the skin – whether it has anti-aging properties or is therapeutic in healing the skin.

The three products I’ve been reviewing are H2O Hydration, Every Morning Sun Whip and Simply Zinc Sun Whip.

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H2O Hydration – $60

H2O Hydration is a great morning cream (that doesn’t actually contain sunscreen) for when you aren’t going to be outside a whole lot. I like to use this for days that I’m at work…sitting in my office. It’s very light, easy to blend and feels fresh. I also find that it’s a really good base before I apply my makeup.

This moisturizer is olive-based, which apparently mimics the skin’s barrier in order to allow for the active ingredients to penetrate the skin. The three active ingredients in the H2O Hydration are: ‘tetrapeptides’, which increase the production of collagen and elastin (important components in keeping our skin plump); ‘ectoins’, which is a natural substance that stimulates the skin’s own defense mechanisms in fighting off UV stressors and lastly reservatrol, an A+ antioxidant that rids free radicals to prevent oxidative damage.

Every Morning Sun Whip – SPF 25 ($38)

Every Morning Sun Whip has the same consistency as H2O Hydration and feels just as light. It has a matte finish, but I do find that to the touch it has the slightest bit of sunscreen feeling (it also acts as a good base before applying makeup). I like to put this all over my face and use the Simply Zinc Sun Whip for more sensitive spots (like my nose and around my hair line). This Sun Whip has 15% zinc, which makes it calming and gentle to the face. It’s also great for those with combination, oily or acneic skin. Definitely a keeper!

Simply Zinc Sun Whip – SPF 30 ($38)

Simply Zinc Sun Whip is full of zinc…a whopping 22%! Like the description on the website says, it does absorb nicely – considering the amount of zinc it contains – but I find it to have a glue-like consistency. I did not like the feeling of it on my whole face. Like I mentioned above, I like to put this on my nose and around my hairline, as it protects very well. I also found this to be a great day-time spot treatment. Pesky zits do not like zinc! I found that a little dab here and there reduced redness and helped erase them quickly.

Overall I am very impressed with this company. The ingredients are high quality, the product is packaged nicely and I love that it’s Canadian made – a huge plus! These have definitely been staples in my morning regime.

Where to buy? Online or at a few spas around the country (check out their store locator here).

 

*Disclaimer: I was provided with all three products for editorial consideration and review. My opinion isn’t compensated. 

#Glutened

Glutened

As careful as we can be when it comes to avoiding gluten, sometimes the inevitable happens and gluten creeps up in some way or another.

There have been a few incidences within the past month where gluten has crept into my diet accidentally, and I end up paying the price with a flare up of my digestive issues.

Pain and bloating are the main symptoms (along with a few others, like a foggy feeling) and I also feel exhausted for days. Gluten definitely isn’t my friend!

When I get ‘glutened’ these are a few of my go-to healing methods.

They’re also helpful if you’re suffering from indigestion, are bloated or are just experieincing stomach discomfort.

  1. A heating pack. Once gluten hits, my stomach tenses up – almost like a ‘Charlie horse’ but with more pain. I find that heat helps the muscles relax. Right now I have an ‘aromatherapy’ scented, microwavable pack that has lost all scent and just smells like burnt popcorn. Comforting but smelly.
  2. A nap. I get so sleepy and sore that the only thing I find bearable is sleeping it out.
  3. Two extra strength tylenol every four hours…it helps ease my pain substantially.
  4. Peppermint tea.
  5. Child’s pose or lying on my back and bringing my knees to my chest.
  6. Have you heard of the ‘I Love You’ baby massage technique to give babies with colic? Try it on yourself, it’s very comforting. It may seem silly, but massaging your own tummy helps to relieve some of the pain.

When you’re experiencing stomach discomfort, what do you find helpful?

*Disclaimer. I am not a medical professional. Always consult your doctor.