A healthy couch potato

There’s no doubt about it, we all love to snack. A bowl of salty, crunchy chips with some salsa in front of the TV is a great way to be mindless. Too bad potato chips aren’t very healthy though….

Until now! Have you heard of Way Better Snacks? They are sprouted ingredient chips and are a wonderful alternative to plain-Jane potato chips. When ingredients are sprouted (or germinated), the vitamins and minerals become more bio-available to the body. Sprouted ingredients increase the amount of vitamins and minerals, increase digestibility and they increase nutrient absorption. Sounds a little too healthy for a snack food, doesn’t it?

I was very happy to be able to review these healthy chips. Some chip companies claim to be a healthy alternative, but they have no real nutrients to them. Way Better Snacks contain ingredients such as flax, quinoa, radish seeds, black beans, brown rice, broccoli seeds and chia seeds. With all of these healthy seeds, beens and sprouts, you would think they would make a better salad than a chip. Wrong. They are a delicious chip and have the flavour of both corn tortillas and SunChips. Each serving contains 420mg of omega 3 fatty acids, which is almost half of the daily requirements for omega 3s/day, according to the Dieticians of Canada website.

 

 

Flavour profiles:
 
Sweet Chili: I found the Sweet Chili to be more ‘chili’ than ‘sweet’. It had a bit of a kick to it, which added some nice flavour. I found them to be very rich though, which swayed me away from eating half the bag in one sitting!
Unbeatable Blues: These were a simple, blue-corn-based (non GMO) chip that had just a touch of pure sea salt and offered a lovely crunch. I liked these ones and they were great dipped in salsa.
Black Bean: The colour of these chips set me off a bit, they look a bit grey, which is due to the sprouted black beans. You could definitely taste the black beans in these chips as well. I liked them, but they weren’t my favourite out of the bunch.
Multi-Grain: I liked these ones the best. The taste was very reminiscent of SunChips and the variety of grains added a lot of crunch. There was a bit of a nutty flavour to these and they were awesome dipped in hummus.

 

I would highly recommend these chips if you’re in the mood for a snack. Although they are super healthy, they won’t make you feel guilty if you “indulge” a bit. If you are in the mood for a lazy day, grab a bag and be a “healthy” couch potato!

Glutino Sugar Cookies for Santa

The tastes and smells of Christmas are in full swing at my house. I always seem to fall into the holiday mood once the oven starts roaring and the smell of Christmas cookies circulates the house. Shortbread, sugar cookies and gingerbread are my three favourite Christmas cookies – what are yours?
I’m usually always ahead of the game when it comes to holiday baking, but the past few months have been so busy that my first batch of cookies I made was only yesterday. However, I must admit that the cookies I made were not from scratch. One box of Glutino’s Sugar Cookie mix, a few tablespoons of butter, two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla was all I needed to whip up the start to my holiday baking. Thank you, Glutino, for helping make my baking a little bit easier. 
After mixing up the ingredients, I popped the dough into the freezer for about 20 minutes to chill it. You can either do this route or keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Make sure you don’t forget about it in the freezer though! Chilling the dough helps with the rolling process if you decide to make cut outs (like I did). Before rolling, ensure that the surface you plan on using is clean and floured, to eliminate the dough from sticking to the counter. 
I was surprised at how big these cookies expanded while they were in the oven. My even-cut-out cookies turned into rounded shapes. They still came out cute though, and tasted delicious. 

Once they cooled, I piped on some icing and sprinkled the tops with sprinkles. 

These cookies taste exactly like the real deal. They are sweet, soft in the middle and crunchy around the edges. They really remind of the sugar cookies I used to eat back when I could eat gluten. I would definitely recommend this mix to anyone who wants to enjoy an old-fashion Christmas cookie…and if you have any leftovers (which I’m sure you won’t), place a few on a plate for Santa…only eight sleeps away! 
Stay tuned for an upcoming Glutino giveaway…you definitely won’t want to miss out.

Chocolate Bacon at Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market

Low-lying Christmas lights, mulled wine, hand-crafted ornaments and chocolate-covered bacon! Last Friday we went to the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District. It’s a market influenced by the old and new world traditions that capture the heritage, charm and tradition of European Christmas markets. 
After hearing about it last year, I was itching to go. It definitely got me in the holiday spirit. The one thing I was most looking forward to at the market was Leonard Pig Candy – Chocolate Dipped Bacon. It sounded like such an interesting combo, and wow was it ever! 
A sweet start with a smokey finish. Amazing. 

The busy booth! You could get warm dipped bacon or the packaged, cold stuff. Gluten free!

How cute is this window display? 
I took this photo to capture the old traditions of Christmas markets, these are definitely some classic trinkets. I submitted it into the Christmas Market’s photo contest too! If you could help me out and vote for it, I would be very appreciative, just click here and click ‘vote’ above the photo.

I would highly recommend heading over to the market before it ends this Sunday (15th). If you can’t make it this year, be sure to plan ahead for next year, it was so beautiful and will surely put you in the holiday mood. 

An Afternoon of Tummy Love

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Gluten Free Garage with my boyfriend and a good friend from NYC. The Gluten Free Garage is Toronto’s original pop-up marketplace of all things deliciously gluten free. Jordyn Taylor, from NYC (who works for the New York Observer) snapped photos, while we spoke with vendors and sampled delicious food.
The Gluten Free Garage took place Sunday Nov. 17 at Artscape Wychwood Barns; it was founder, RonniLyn Pustil’s, third time running it.
I have worked at various gluten free shows, including the Gluten Free Garage last June, however I have never walked around as press, or as a customer. I got to taste lots of products and I am excited to share some of my favourite finds that I tried on that Sunday afternoon.
The colourful smokestack at Wychwood Barns
Hero Burger food truck (with only gluten free options) outside of the entrance.
A bird’s eye view, inside Wychwood.
Jody Leigh for Gluten Free. Remember the interview I had with her?

 

Bunner’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Bake Shop. I didn’t try anything this visit, but last time I tried their red-velvet cupcake.
enerjive Quinoa SKINNY Crackers at the Neal Brothers’ booth. BELLA and FIX.

 

No. 7 Mexican Hot Sauce. This hot sauce was HOT! Raw, vegan, preservative-free and gluten free. Hand jarred and packaged in Toronto.

 

Tori’s Bakeshop. Gluten free donuts and cookies. Don’t they look beautiful?!

 

Tori’s Bakeshop ba”con”. Hickory smoked coconut flakes that resemble the smokey taste of bacon. Very yummy!
Organic Works – a hearty gluten free bread that is flavourful and moist. Stay tuned for a delicious review in the next few days.
Dendy & Co – Polenta Cookies and Crisps. I love their cookies, especially the Chocolate & Vanilla. They have a bit of a grainy taste to them and a very interesting texture.

 

Jamie’s Cracked Corn – amazing kettle corn! It was so crunchy, sweet and salty. Very addicting.

 

We ended off the afternoon with a warm cup of fresh pressed apple cider. It was delicious.
Bye Gluten Free Garage! Until next time!

Touchdown with Coconut-Butterscotch-Chocolate Brownies

Don’t you just love the fall? I do. I love the smells, sights, tastes and coziness of autumn. It’s just a great season. Pumpkin pie, knit sweaters, comfy scarves, spicy chai lattes, the colours of the changing leaves, crisp air, long walks, Thanksgiving & Halloween…it just doesn’t get any better than that. I should also include the fact that autumn also marks the start of football season. I’m not much of a football fan (although I do have a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt), but I do love the tasty treats that football is associated with…especially sweets.

When Glutino asked me to become part of their VIGFBC (very important gluten free blogging community), I was honoured! I am a huge fan of Glutino products, they really know how to make gluten-free taste good. To begin my journey as a regular Glutino blogger, I thought I would put a spin on their brownie mix. I also thought these jacked up brownies would be a great addition to any football tailgating party, or just a normal Sunday afternoon watching the game.

All you need is:
1 box of Glutino Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 cup of butterscotch chips
1 cup of shredded sweetened coconut

Follow the directions on the brownie mix box and once everything is combined, mix in the butterscotch chips and coconut. Bake as directed, let cool and serve.

These brownies are delicious. Moist, decadent and chewy…you would never believe they were gluten free. These brownies didn’t last very long in my house, and I doubt they will in yours either!

Bake them up this weekend, they’re perfect for a football tailgating party.

Jody Leigh for Gluten Free

Jody Leigh, a Toronto-based fashion designer, created a fun and quirky clothing line to raise more awareness around the gluten free lifestyle – Jody Leigh for Gluten Free. You don’t often see someone wearing a shirt that trumpets what food allergy they are living with, however, Jody Leigh for Gluten Free does exactly that, in a whimsical fashion with awesome phrases. I think that it is a great way to promote awareness about gluten allergies, but to also help shine light on the fact that living gluten free isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. 
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jody about her experience with the gluten free lifestyle and the idea behind her fantastic clothing line. Enjoy!

Megan: When were you diagnosed with Celiac disease?

Jody: 4 years ago
M: Had you been having symptoms for a long time? What process did you go through to figure out your diagnosis?

J: I have experienced ‘gut’ issues since elementary school when I was initially diagnosed with IBS.  Years later, when I was 25 I became quite ill and found out I had Crohn’s disease. During the testing I was supposed to go for a blood test to see if I had Celiac disease, but ended up putting it off.  It wasn’t until after my Crohn’s diagnosis that I went for the blood test (and a biopsy to ensure accuracy) and found out I was 2 for 2!

M: What were your initial thoughts when you first found out?

J: My initial thought was ‘WHAT CAN I EAT??’  I remember going home and eating an apple because I had no idea what was ‘gluten free’.
M: Did you find it hard to begin a brand new lifestyle change? 

J: At the beginning I found it difficult, because I didn’t know a lot about it and the products available.  After 4 years though, I consider myself to be somewhat of a ‘gluten free’ expert and feel very comfortable and confident leading a gluten free lifestyle.
M: What is your favourite gluten free product(s)?

J: There are so many!  I love Udi’s.  It took me forever to find a good bread and I found that with this brand.

M: Is there a specific restaurant you like to eat out at?  

J: Again, there are so many!  I do love the Kensington Cornerstone in Kensington Market. The menu is completely gluten free!  I also love Magic Oven; their pizzas are so yummy and they offer quality ingredients.
M: When did you come up with the idea ‘Jody Leigh for Gluten Free’? 

J: I used to have a women’s wear line that was called jody leigh and the ‘g f yourself’ t-shirt idea came to me soon after my diagnosis.  When I finally decided to launch the brand, the name came easy to me, maybe because it rhymes!

M: What are your hopes/goals for Jody Leigh for Gluten Free?

J: I would love to expand this brand so that it can be worn all over the world.  IIt’s for a great cause (with a portion of my proceeds going to the Canadian Celiac Association), and people should be proud to be gluten free!  For many it may be an intolerance or a lifestyle change, but for those of us who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease why not be happy about an illness that you can control with diet and without medication!
M: What products do you currently have?

J: At the moment I offer men’s and women’s t-shirts and a women’s french terry sweatshirt. 

M: Are there certain products you hope to have in the future?

J: I do have hopes to expand into the children’s wear market this year.
M: Where can people purchase your product?


J: jody leigh for gluten free is available in Toronto at the Arts Market.  There is a location in Leslieville (1114 Queen Street East), and one opening Saturday, June 22nd at 846 College Street at Ossington.  I also am in the process of opening an online store which will launch this summer.

Visit jody leigh for gluten free online to shop her clothing line! Spread awareness and live confidently with your gluten allergy!
Follow her on Twitter @JL_GlutenFree
Follow her on Instagram @Jody_Leigh 
Like her on Facebook ‘JodyLeighForGlutenFree’

Back to School Essentials

We are almost into October, the first month back to school is coming to an end. Whether you started a new school year, have children in school, or you work at a school, the first few weeks of a new routine with school are always rewarding.

I have been very busy with my first month at a new school in a post graduate degree studying public relations. It has been an amazing few weeks and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. I thought I would share my favourite back to school items that have made (and make) my time at school less stressful and more organized. I also have a fun, colourful contest giveaway for you…so read on!

1. Germs Away Mist – Graydon Clinical Luxury by Nature: It’s pretty amazing how many toxic ingredients are in everyday skin care and beauty products, especially chemical-laden hand sanitizer. If something smells so harsh (like hand sanitizer) why should we be rubbing it into our skin? The Mist is a fantastic alternative and great to carry around in your school bag to exterminate any germs. Spray it around your lunch area before eating, spray into your hands, use to freshen up your locker and freshen your knapsack. It’s made with all natural ingredients and essential oils to create a fresh smell. The bonus is that it’s also Canadian!

2. Essie Good to Go – I absolutely love Essie’s Good To Go Top Coat. It is the best top coat I have found hands down. It helps to dry polish quicker than normal and it creates a beautiful fresh, hard shine. It makes my nails look like I visited the salon. It’s about $11.99 and helps to save a bundle on manicure visits.

3. Blu Dot Beverages – No GMO’s, no artificial ingredients, gluten free, 12g of protein, 6g of fibre and low in sugar. How good does that sound? It’s a tea based drink that fills you up. Crazy right!? I love this because it’s an easy alternative to a smoothie or protein powder and it tastes like a delicious tea. It’s the perfect snack or addition to a meal and is the perfect drink to throw in your bag if you are rushed in the morning to make breakfast. The protein in it is derived from New Zealand whey, and trust me, it actually does fill you up.

4. enerjive SKINNY Quinoa Crackers – A chocolate cracker…sounds different right? enerjive SKINNY Quinoa Crackers in FIX Chocolate are my favourite flavour from this amazing gluten free Canadian brand. enerjive comes in 5 flavours and they are “crackers with benefits”. The benefits are that they contain high quality gluten free grains, they are low in the glycemic index, great for metabolism, full of protein and low in calories. They also taste delicious and are another perfect snack to keep you satisfied until lunch or dinner. I keep these in my backpack at all times in case hunger strikes in-between meals.

5. pur gum – I just thought I would throw in this new find of mine. Pur gum is aspartame free and sweetened with xylitol, a natural occurring sugar alcohol that makes a great alternative to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. I just love the fact that this gum is pure – it’s gluten free, vegan, nut free, diabetic friendly and dairy free. I like the spearmint flavour. Mmmmm.

6. Poppin Notebook – I’m a sucker for a fresh new notebook. Clean pages, the smell of fresh paper and a place to make fresh looking notes. I know, pretty nerdy right? I really love this new find. I found Poppin school supplies at Indigo and loved how reasonably priced they were. I’m a huge fan of the Moleskin notebooks, but $20 for a bunch of blank pages bound together is a bit pricey. Poppin notebooks are affordable ($9 for a 5×8 book with 192 pages), come in fun colours and they resemble Moleskins. They also have a nice ribbon bookmark attached to easily find the page you left off. I’ve been using my lime green notebook to keep track of daily to-do lists. I just love making lists.

7. Crystal Light Liquid Drink Mix – A great, quick, zero calorie juice alternative is Crystal Light Liquid Drink Mix. They’re small and compact so you can easily throw one in your backpack or purse. Just add a couple drops to your water bottle and let your water magically transform into a yummy flavoured juice. There are four flavours…’Strawberry Lemonbabe’, ‘Mango Passionate’, ‘Iced Tease Me’ and ‘Blueberry Raz’. My favourites are the ‘Mango Passionate’ and ‘Iced Tease Me’.

8. Poppin Pens – I didn’t just walk out of Indigo with a Poppin notebook, I also bought a 12 pack box of Poppin Signature Pens for $12. I thought my notebook would want a new pen…not that I needed anymore though! I was obviously drawn to the sleek look and colour of these pens, but I also was quite impressed with the flow of the ink. They write very easily. I think they’re my new favourite pen.

….So now for the giveaway. The lovely people from Crystal Light Canada will send one lucky Canadian winner a Crystal Light prize pack. All you have to do is:

1. Comment below mentioning your favourite back to school essential and what Crystal Light flavour you would like to try. AND

2. Follow @gutgazette on Twitter and mention that you entered to win the Crystal Light prize pack. Be sure to include @gutgazette and @CrystalLightCA in your tweet.

*Only open to Canadian residents.

The draw will take place October 7, 2013 at 7pm. Good luck!

Wonderful Product Finds

As I have mentioned before, shopping in specialty grocery stores or markets gives me the same thrill that a child gets when they are in a toy store. I could easily spend a couple hours wandering around a new grocery store, or taking my time at each booth at a market. I simply just love food.

My latest new food finds are really fun, delicious, and they all share a common theme: they are all small family/friend run companies. I’m really looking forward to sharing the following with you – I hope by the end of reading this post you will be excited to seek out these fabulous products to try for yourself!
Drip: Maple syrup is one of my favourite food products. It definitely ranks on my top 10 list of favourites. I’m not talking Aunt Jemima table syrup though (although, it is pretty delicious on pancakes), I’m talking about pure, freshly harvested Canadian maple syrup. The taste is so different, and has so many different tasting notes. It’s caramel-y, sweet, oaky, nutty, rich, and of course has the distinct maple flavour. I find that certain syrups take on different tasting notes, almost like a wine does.  Some people like to splurge on balsamic vinegar, wine, or fancy oils – me, I get excited about buying a high quality bottle of maple syrup – I guess that’s just my Canadian coming out, eh?
When I saw Drip set up at a booth at a market recently, I got really excited immediately. First off, I was so impressed with their simple, sophisticated booth. It was lined with a dark table cloth, and then there stood 3 beautiful cut stumps, with each flavour sitting on top of each.
I know you shouldn’t judge something before trying, but I knew just by the look of the table and the sleek bottle that it would be a good find. I got a little shot glass of Amber syrup and sipped it back. Mmmm, I wanted more immediately. It had the most unusual flavours in it, I had never tried a maple syrup so different. Unusually good though, it was a rich, nutty flavour that had hints of burnt caramel, sweet brown sugar and pure vanilla. I then proceeded to sample the Blonde and Copper varieties (the first of the season and the middle of the season). They were just as good, and if I could, I probably would have bought one of each. But, I loved the richness of the Amber and I also love the fact that Amber has the most minerals and antioxidants in it – due to it being left in the tree the longest.

Did you know that maple syrup is rich in the trace mineral manganese? It is an important mineral that helps with antioxidant defences. Zinc is also found in maple syrup, which helps in immune system functions. It is full of great properties, and is actually written up in the website and book The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Drip is run by a very lovely couple, who I had the pleasure of meeting, and by one other man. I was told that the syrup is from a forest up north in Manitoulin Island – just south of Sudbury, Ontario. I also love the fact that this syrup is simply straight from the tree. It is unblended and has no additives or preservatives. It is definitely Mother Nature’s sweetest, most delicious goods.
I always like maple syrup on pancakes and waffles (gf obviously), but I don’t think I will ‘drip’ this maple gold on something so rich. I will definitely use it over my yogurt and granola, on oatmeal, over salmon and drizzled on greek yogurt. I am also looking forward to trying it in a cold tumbler of gin – an idea recommended by the lady who sold it to me. To conclude my long rant on maple syrup, I will end it off by saying that this is exactly what I have been looking for in a maple syrup, and I don’t know if there is anything that can beat this taste. There are a few locations in Toronto that sell it currently – such as the Drake General Store – but you can purchase it online (thank goodness)!
Check out their website and trust me, you will not go wrong with this purchase. You may just become addicted!

Upper Spice: I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, but I do love spices that add a punch of flavour. I have also recently taken a taste for jerk spices. I love the variety of flavours that fuse together to make such a distinctive taste.

I discovered Upper Spice at a local market, they were sampling their Medium Jamaican Jerk on slow cooked chicken. It was delicious, it had a cinnamon-y spicy flavour and the heat warmed up my whole body. I found the medium to be a bit too hot for me, so I opted for the mild. The great thing about this line of spices is that they are all 100% gluten free and homemade! Upper Spice is owned by a  mother/daughter duo from Burlington, Ontario who created the spice mixture after getting a taste of authentic Jamaican jerk on a trip to Jamaica. This jerk spice is nothing like I have ever tried – so fresh, flavourful and although I have never been to Jamaica, it definitely tastes authentic. I am excited to try it as a rub on ribs, and as a spice for sautéed chicken fajitas.

You can buy Upper Spice online, 3 packs for $15. Or, keep your eyes peeled this summer at local Toronto markets…that’s where I bought mine!

Hawberry Farms: Every year, The University of Guelph has an annual artisanal sale called Fair November. The first year I went, I visited the Hawberry Farms booth, which had an extensive variety of jams, oils, dips and relish. Every product is so unique and unlike anything you would find at a grocery store, such as Apple Pie Jam, Blueberry Rhubarb Jam, Banana Spread and a lot more – including the famous Hawberry Jelly, which is a berry found on Manitoulin Island (the same largest freshwater island in the world that Drip is harvested). I had ended up purchasing the Carrot Cake Jam, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It honestly tastes like carrot cake and it goes well with so many things; such as muffins, slices of a loaf, toast and even mixed into vanilla ice-cream or greek yogurt. Year after year I would attend Fair November and pick up my jar of Carrot Cake Jam. Luckily it would also last me a few months – as it is pretty rich and a small amount goes a long way. It’s been two years now since I’ve had this delicious creation, until last weekend when I picked it up at the Harbourfront Artisanal Market. I was so happy to have found it there. I wasn’t aware that they had a website in which you could order from, I will definitely be doing this from now on when I need my fix of Carrot Cake Jam. Trust me, I don’t think they have one product that isn’t delicious, so take your pick, you won’t be risking anything!

ChocoSol: This chocolate company isn’t just about making delicious chocolate; it seems that they are all about dignity, positive relationships, respect and love. Maybe that’s why I felt so great after sampling a piece of their chocolate the other weekend at a farmer’s market. ChocoSol is a small Toronto based company, run by a few staff and volunteers, who believe that their chocolate is “good for mind, body and soil”. They say on their website that ‘sol’ in Spanish means the sun, which refers to the fact that their first 1000 kilos of cacao were rosted with solar power in Mexico. Sol in french means soil, and in English ‘sol’ sounds like ‘soul’ and reminds them of doing good hearted things in a learning community. After reading and learning about their product, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to not like this chocolate. I should also mention that the chocolate is fair trade, sweetened with agave syrup, and free of gluten (bonus), nuts, dairy, soy and it is vegan. I tried the ‘Choco-Latte’ drinking chocolate at the market and wow was it good. Not a typical chocolate milk though, as it is water based and only sweetened with agave syrup. It was bitter, but it felt like a super healthy cocoa drink – I actually loved it. The Coconut Chocolate was the other product I tried. The sweetness of the coconut sprinkled on top almost helped sweeten the dark, natural, earthy chocolate. What I love about this chocolate is that you do feel like you are having a treat, but you don’t feel high on sugar afterwards, it just feels healthy. All in all, this tasty chocolate company seems to exhibit all things good – good chocolate, good people and good souls. You can look at the locations of where ChocoSol sells on their website. I will definitely be searching this one out again soon.

I love finding new products, especially when they are Canadian, local, and of course gluten free and absolutely delicious! I hope you search these out and enjoy them as much as I do. Let me know what your favourite local products are – I would love to hear and try!

Gluten Free London & Paris

My family and I just came back from a wonderful two-week trip to London, England and Paris. We did so much walking and saw so many touristy attractions, it was great! When we first decided we were going, I was hesitant to whether there would be many gluten free options, or if I would just have to eat grilled chicken, veggies and salad for two weeks. However, once I started researching, I found so many restaurants that were either strictly gluten free, or that had gluten free alternatives. It relieved my stress that I had about finding gluten free friendly food.

I had read a lot of different gluten free travel sites to get ideas on where to eat here and there, however I found a lot of places on my own, and discovered new and helpful tips on how to travel abroad with a gluten allergy.

Gluten free on the plane: We flew with Air Canada, and when we purchased our tickets we were able to specify whether we had any allergies. Fortunately I was able to check off ‘Gluten-Free’! To be honest though, I do not get hungry the slightest bit when I fly, so I didn’t really have an appetite once my gluten free meal arrived. I was impressed though. It was chicken chimichurri with herb roasted potatoes, a cookie and bun from Patsy Pie and a little thing of coleslaw. I tucked the Patsy Pie cookie and bun for later as a snack, it was delicious. Once we got across the Atlantic Ocean, and it was now breakfast time in London, they came around and gave us all muffins, carrot for the non-gluten-free’ers and an Apple Cinnamon Patsy Pie muffin. It was actually very delicious and so moist! It didn’t even really taste gluten free. On our way back to Canada, the meal was pretty similar, but the bun was a no-name gluten free brand that tasted like saw dust…I wasn’t too impressed.

Gluten free on the go: Lots of walking and sightseeing definitely makes you hungry, and it wasn’t very easy to find an easy gluten free snack everywhere we went. So, I had packed Enerjive Skinny crackers in my suitcase to bring with me from Toronto. They are healthy quinoa crackers with a low glycemic index and filled with good seeds and grains (they are also free of refined sugars and low in sodium)!. I found that eating a couple (with a cup of tea) mid morning and mid afternoon helped me stay satiated until lunch or dinner came around. I would just stick a couple in a plastic baggy and tuck them away in my purse. They are flat, so they take up the least bit of room.

Enerjive by the London Eye!

Gluten free lunches: In both London and Paris, it was pretty easy to eat a gluten free lunch, as a protein packed salad is almost always gluten free and on most menus. In London I had a Cobb salad once, with olive oil as the dressing, and in Paris I had a lot of Parisian Salads, which consists of country ham (prociutto), emmetnal or swiss cheese, tomato, onion and the odd cucumber (with lettuce of course). In Paris there was one exclusively gluten free restaurant, called NoGlu. It was really cool to be able to pick anything off the menu without any hesitation. The restauarant has only been in operation for 7 months, and there were many delicious meals on the menu, including items such as a quinoa salad, salmon with a potato dish, and a Parisian club sandwich – which consisted of procuitto, swiss cheese and caramelized onions…it was declicious. They also had cookies, muffins, and other pastries on their menu – I was much too full to indulge though. I should also mention that the bread is homemade and they even bring a gluten free bread basket, it was so fun!

On days where I knew that gluten free options would be hard to come by (ie – museums/castles) I would pack a couple slices of gf bread or gf oatmeal to go. When we went to The Tower of London, I picked up a banana, yogurt and then hot water for my gf oatmeal. It wasn’t the most delicious lunch, but it kept me satisfied until afternoon tea or dinner came around. Same went for Hampton Court – there were no options that I could eat – luckily I had a couple slices of bread in my purse, so I bought some cheese and a banana, which accompanied my bread.

In London we ate at Pizza Express, which had gluten free crust! Although the gluten free pizza sounded delicious, the antipasto plate caught my eye, and it too was gluten free. At Pizza Express they list beside each item what is gluten free, vegetarian and what items contain nuts. In Covent Gardens there was a restaurant near the theatre district called PJs Grill, it also offered gluten free options, like bunless burgers, steaks and salads. I had a COBB Salad, it was delicious!

Gluten free snacks: In a lot of the art galleries and museums in London, there were a few gluten free options for treats. Such as the National Art Gallery which had a gluten free chocolate cake. You can also go for high tea at Fortnum & Masons, Browns Hotel, Claridges Hotel, and the British Museum. That was one thing I really wanted to do, but it costs around £50 for tea, tea sandwiches and cakes…which I found very pricey! The grocery stores, such as Waitrose, had a ‘free from’ section, which had gluten free breads, cereals and even tea cookies (like custard filled and digestive cookies)! I tried Genius bread when I was there and I honestly almost cried – it tasted exactly like “regular” gluten bread. The slices were huge and the consistency was soft and chewy…it was so amazing. Genius…come to Canada!!! Wimbledon was my favourite spot in London, I am a huge tennis fan and have wanted to go for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately the tournament isn’t until late June, but seeing Centre Court and the museum was just as awesome. We even had strawberries and cream there – and those are most definitely gluten free.

Gluten free dinners: In both London and Paris we rented flats, which were both equipped with kitchens. Some days we would pick up a roast chicken and salads so that we could just eat in. It was great after a long day of touring, and also a secure way of knowing that what I was eating was gluten free.

My favourite dinner in London would have to be the gluten free fish and chips! I was so excited to find a restaurant that had that gluten free option. It was my first fish and chips in a very long time, about 7 years! The restaruant is called The Grill on Leicester Square. It had a few gluten free options, but obviously the fish and chips grabbed my interest. It was absolutely delicious – crunchy, flaky, and oh so good! The mushy peas were good too! In Paris, steak and frites (fries) is always an option, except you really can’t eat it too many times, it’s so heavy. Just make sure that the fries are fried in a separate deep fryer, avoiding cross contamination. In London they also have the restaurant Wagamama, which is an international Japanese restaurant chain. They are able to make most items gluten free, and some of the menu items are naturally gluten free. It’s a tasty restaurant but extremely casual and more of a lunch place than dinner place.

Grocery stores: Lucky enough, Paris and London both had many gluten free options at grocery stores. We were able to find breads, cereal, crackers and cookies…Paris even had gluten free croissants at a small supermarket, but I had enough food to finish in our 5 days that we stayed. 
If you would like to learn about more gluten free options in London, I found this website to be very helpful: Adventures of a Gluten Free Globetrekker
For Paris, the website Gluten Free Mom helped me out a lot! 
My worry of not being able to find gluten free friendly meals while traveling was put to rest. Canada is definitely not the only country who has people who suffer from gluten allergies; it is all over the world and countries such as England and France have also jumped on the bandwagon and are popping up with alternatives all over the place. I didn’t find it hard at all! 

Gluten Free Beauty Review: AHAVA Product Review 2

For the first time, back in August, I tried AHAVA Active Deadsea Minerals and reviewed it on The Gut Gazette. I was very pleased when I tried the product, and I really enjoyed the effects on my skin. 


The Dead Sea, located in Israel, is also known as the “lowest health spa in the world”. It has a large proportion of salts and minerals in the water and mud, that make a unique, nourishing, age defying, and healing potion for the skin. I mentioned in my first post that AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories is a company which began in 1988, to take advantage of the ever healing Dead Sea water and mud to create the finest, nature-inspired body products. Now, in 2012, AHAVA Active DeadSea Minerals has an array of products, including cleansers and toners, makeup, serums, sun care and moisturizers.
What I love about AHAVA is that all of their products are paraben free, SLS/SLES free, free of petroleum, synthetic ingredients and GMOs, they do not test on animals, all is approved for sensitive skin and AHAVA is formulated using Dead Sea water, mineral mud and sea salt. The bonus is that the majority of AHAVA’s products are gluten free (not the Mineral Foot Cream though)!
A few similarities that I have found with the four products I have reviewed, is their refreshing, beautiful scent, and the remarkably smooth, gentle effect it has on the skin. Not only is AHAVA smooth, velvety and fresh smelling, but all of the products also have an invigorating feel. I actually found this similarity across all 8 products that I have reviewed. 
A couple of the products I reviewed in August were Age Control products, which at the moment I don’t quite need yet. However, it’s never too early to start preventing skin from aging! 
I really wanted to review products that would show effects on my mid-20s skin though, just to prove how great these products really are, and to share them with people of all ages. 
Apparently this mask can provide an instant hydration boost within 3 minutes. The instructions say to apply 1-2 times a week, rinsing off after 3-5 minutes, or can be left on over night. I didn’t find it to have much of an effect after a few minutes, but leaving it over night worked wonders. At first I assumed ‘Mask’ was just to do with the face. However, I hardly used this mask on my face. I would rub it into my hands and feet before bedtime, and let the thick, creamy moisturizer work it’s magic overnight. It was a great treatment for my dry, cracked skin this winter, and I really enjoyed how my hands (and feet) felt the next morning. The scent was very lovely too – floral mixed with a bit of spice.
“A nourishing anti-aging cream that defines body’s contours and recovers lost skin firmness”.  To be honest, I don’t really understand how a cream can “define” a body’s contours. I understand that certain ingredients can help with collagen repair and firm up elastin in the skin, but I truly believe that without a healthy diet and frequent exercise, no magic cream or potion on this Earth can change the shape of our bodies. However, I did like to believe that this cream was helping to firm up my core and bum. I wasn’t just using this cream alone to make me feel more comfortable in my body – at the time I was using this cream, I was also working out frequently and enjoying healthy foods. I would like to think it helped firm up my problem areas, but I really don’t know how much of a difference this cream can make. AHAVA claims that 82% saw an improvement in skin firmness and tightness, but that was only from a survey of 50 women, and perhaps these women were also healthy active individuals. I’m not going to bash this though – I really liked the scent and feel of the cream and I’m not saying I won’t use it again!
Mineral Foot Cream *NOT GLUTEN FREE* – $20
For those of you who are severe Celiacs or very sensitive to gluten, a body moisturizer or cosmetic that contains gluten may cause irritations on your body. This Foot Cream does unfortunately contain wheat germ, therefore it is not gluten free. Although the skin is the largest organ and absorbs anything put on it, my feet did not react to this – but please do not use it if you have any hesitations. 

I was interested in trying this Mineral Foot Cream, because I fell in love with the Mineral Hand Cream (which does not contain gluten). I loved the feeling of the hand cream, it made my hands feel like I was wearing silk gloves, and I absolutely loved the smell. Fortunately  this foot cream does the same thing. It smells delicate and feminine, and leaves a silky slipper over the foot. I would apply this before bed – on the days that I wasn’t using the Hydration Mask – and the next morning my feet felt very nourished. The cream contains avocado, almond and jojoba oil (along with wheat germ), which help soften and nourish the feet. It also contains: aloe vera, which acts as a soothing agent; tea tree oil which contains antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and salicylic acid to help skin renewal. 

Although it helped my feet, I didn’t really like the idea of putting something on my skin that contained gluten. If you aren’t gluten free though – I would highly recommend this!


I’ve never really used a body exfoliator in the shower, but after using this I am hooked. This exfoliator provides a “2-in-1 daily cleansing and nourishing” experience, as it cleanses and renews the skin. It is infused with dead sea water (of course) and red seaweed granules, which you can actually see. 


I really liked the feeling of my skin after this, and the days I didn’t exfoliate, I could definitely feel a difference. I just felt like my skin felt more refreshed and free of any unwanted particles. It also had a refreshing floral smell. I would definitely recommend this. It doesn’t feel like it’s drying your skin out either. 


Can you tell I really like AHAVA? Although I love it, the downside is that this product seems to be designed for women due to the floral scent. However, if you are a guy who likes flowery scented products, you will definitely like this! Another downside is the price, it is a bit pricey, but, a little goes a long way with AHAVA and my products have lasted quite some time! I would recommend this if you like silky skin and floral scented lotions – you won’t be disappointed!