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

 

imagine-disclaimer

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.

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. 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Truffles

The official countdown to Christmas is on – we’re only five days away!
Glutino Brownies and Cupcakes Last night we had our family Christmas party – with three out of our 13 family members who are gluten-free. I always love raising my hand to bring the treats and this year I decided to make everything gluten-free.

I used to make a variety of ‘gluten-full’ treats so that I didn’t have to make everyone eat my gluten-free creations (when I was the only one GF), but now that there are so many amazing alternatives to GF flours and mixes, baking gluten-free for everyone is easy and everyone loves it.

One of my favourite GF brownie mixes is from Glutino (Double Chocolate Brownies) – they make the most decadent, fudgey, flavourful brownies and they always seem to be a hit. I served brownies and mini Glutino Twinkle Sprinkle Cupcakes with buttercream icing to appease the chocolate and vanilla lovers in the family.

They’re both so easy to whip up and are the perfect treat to finish off a Christmas dinner.

Alongside, I served Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Truffles. These truffles are a rendition of the ‘Oreo’ Truffle, using Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies. They didn’t last long on the plate and everyone was so surprised how easy they were to make.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Truffles

1.5 packages of Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies

1 80z package of cream cheese

1 package of semi-sweet baking chocolate

In a food processor, blend a package and a half of Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies until they are a fine crumb. Next, chop the cream cheese into small pieces and add in. Continue to blend until a smooth mixture is formed. Stick in the fridge for around 30-45 minutes until cool.

Once the mixture is cooled, scoop out and roll into one inch balls (or smaller). Stick in the freezer to chill for 25 minutes.

After removing from the freezer, in a double-boiler melt the semi-sweet chocolate until smooth and liquid. Drop the balls into the mixture and roll around with a spoon. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool. Keep in the fridge before serving.

Gluten-Free 'Oreo' Truffles

The outer shell is a hard semi-sweet chocolate and inside is a gooey, rich truffle filling. They are amazing!

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

When you think of Christmas, what scents or flavours do you associate it with? For me, peppermint and shortbread always come to mind.

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I eat my fair share of shortbread during the holiday season and I must say they are one of the best cookies to make gluten-free. Maybe because they tend to have more butter than flour…but regardless, they always seem to turn out with the exact ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ consistency as ‘gluten-full- shortbread.

My go-to shortbread recipe has always been ‘Grandma’s Shortbread’ on the back of the Fleischmann’s Canada Corn Starch box. It’s fool proof and also easy to turn gluten-free by subsituting wheat flour with a gluten-free blend.

Sometimes gluten-free all-purpose flour can be tough to use as a replacement for all-purpose white, wheat flour because the consistency turns out too tough or grainy. For example, Robin Hood Gluten Free Flour is awful for making shortbread. The consistency is super grainy and the flavour turns out almost sour – not a fan!

One of the best ‘cup-for-cup’ gluten-free all-purpose florus I’ve come across so far has been Glutino’s All Purpose Flour Mix. It isn’t grainy and offers a smooth finish to baked goods. I would definitely recommend picking up a box of this for your holiday treats.

I usually top my shortbreads with a Milk Chocolate Chipit, but with my last batch I chopped up Hershey Peppermint Bark Bells and topped the cookies with those. They add a minty, Christmasy flavour (they’re also delicious to eat on their own). If you’re not in the Christmas mood yet, you probably will be after these cookies.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (Glutino’s All-Purpose Flour Mix)

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup corn starch

3/4 cups butter (room temperature, or nooked in the microwave)

6 Hershey Peppermint Bark Bells (chopped)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

With a hand mixer (or stand mixer), mix butter until smooth and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, sift the gluten-free all-purpose flour, icing sugar and corn starch. Sifting the dry ingredients together enusres that there are no large clumps – it essentially aerates the ingredients.

Combine the dry ingredients with the butter and continue to mix with the hand mixer. YOu will then have to combine the ingredients with your hands to form a ball of dough. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes and then roll one inch balls and place two to three inches apart from one another.

Bake for 10 minutes, top the cookies with the chocolate pieces and bake for an additional 10-12 – until slightly golden.

What’s your favourite holiday/Christmas cookie? Comment below to let me know for your chance to win Glutino coupons!

For an additional entry, follow @TheGutGazette on Twitter and let me know in a separate comment.

Triple Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies

What’s better than chocolate? What about chocolate times three…in the form of a cookie!?!

Gluten-free Chocolate Cookies

I am definitely in love with chocolate.  It’s rare I go a day without eating some form of the cocoa+sugar goodness. I know it’s not as healthy as having carrots every day, but moderation is the key to a balanced life and if chocolate is a contributor to my happiness everyday, then I don’t care!

Hershey was kind enough to send me a delicious goodie bag to review, so I decided to create a cookie that packed a huge chocolate punch. They sure do pack a punch! They’re very rich and taste like a brownie in the form of a chewy cookie. They are really delicious, even my non-gluten-free family loves them. The best part is that they remind me of the chocolate part of the gluten-full, Pillsbury, ‘ready to bake’ sugar cookies! I used to love those cookies…

These are super easy to make. They are essentially a shortbread base with cocoa powder and Hershey’s Chipits added to the mix. They are the perfect cookie to bring to your next holiday party, to woo your co-workers with or to package up and gift for a DIY Christmas gift.

Gluten Free chocolate cookies

Triple Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter (ideally room temperature, but if you’re in a rush, nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds)

3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I love Glutino’s All-Purpose Flour Mix)

1/2 cup icing sugar

3 tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa Powder (Natural & Unsweetened)

1/4 cup Hershey’s White Chocolate Chipits

1/4 cup Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chipits 

Preheat oven to 300°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

With a hand mixer (or stand mixer), mix butter under smooth and fluffy.

Mix in the gluten-free all-purpose flour, icing sugar and cocoa powder, blend until fully combined.

Add in the Chipits and blend on low or mix with a wooden spoon.

Combine the dough with your hands and cool in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow it to set for easier handling. Once the dough is chilled, roll the cookies into one inch balls and place a couple inches apart from one another (the cookies do expand as they bake!). Gently press each ball of dough with the palm of your hand to flatten the cookie.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Let the cookies completely cool before storing and/or serving.

*These cookies are also egg and nut free!

Gluten-Free Flatbread

I think I’ve mentioned this a few other times, but my favourite flavour combination is sweet and salty. I love adding sweet to a salty dish, I find it brings the flavours to different level.

Gluten-free flatbread

The best food combo is dates, prosciutto and goat cheese. The sweet dates compliment the salty prosciutto and the smooth goat cheese blends everything together perfectly. This flatbread recipe is perfect for an appetizer or a main meal and I will assure you it will be a crowd favourite.

Gluten-Free Date, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese FlatbreadGluten-free flatbread

2 frozen gluten free pizza crust bases (O’Dough’s has a good crust – this is what I used)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 medjool dates, de-pitted and chopped
6 tbsp goat’s cheese
8 basil leaves, chopped
4-6 slices of prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place frozen crusts on baking sheet (they will defrost while they cook).

Top each frozen gluten free pizza crust base (or flatbread) with ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Next, top each crust with four basil leaves, spread around to cover the base. Top each crust with three tablespoons each of crumbled goat cheese and then sprinkle the chopped dates (four to each crust) and chopped prosciutto on top. Ensure the prosciutto is the last to be added, as it will become crunchy while cooking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Gluten-free Halloween

One more sleep until Halloween!

I not only love Halloween for the surplus of chocolate, but I love dressing up. It’s fun to be something “different” for the evening or for a party. When I was a kid I used to plan my costume months and months before!

Wouldn’t it be neat if we could dress up to be able to enjoy all the gluten-filled candies like KitKat bars and Coffee Crisps? Only in our dreams, right? 

Fortunately there are a few gluten-free candies we can still enjoy. My top five favourite gluten-free Halloween candies are:

  1. Nestle Aero
  2. Cadbury Dairy Milk
  3. Maynard’s Wine Gums
  4. Maynard’s Fuzzy Peaches
  5. Chiclet’s Gum

Gluten-free halloween candy

What are yours?