Honey Bunny Love

In honour of the Easter Bunny’s big debut tomorrow, I thought I would share a delicious new product that not only is gluten free, but also organic and sweetened naturally with honey, enter: Honey Bunny.
Honey Bunny is a Canadian product founded by Gilbert and Sharon Wolfe from Guy, Alberta. Their stand-up, pouch containers with corner pour spouts are innovative with no mess. What’s neat about these recyclable pouches is that one truck load of empty pouches is equivalent to 25 truckloads of jars – what a perfect shatter-free alternative! 
It’s really tough to find a good gluten free BBQ sauce, but Honey Bunny nailed it. I love the fact that all of their products are naturally sweetened, made of organic ingredients and do not contain any artificial preservatives. I love the branding of the product and the graphics are really cute. It makes it a fun sauce that you would want your guests to see at a summer BBQ. It also makes a super healthy sauce that you would feel comfortable serving your family.  
Amazing Dad’s BBQ Sauce: It’s great on meat…just like the pouch says (“meat is good, meat is good, meat is good”). The ingredient list is as follows: organic honey, water, organic tomato paste, organic vinegar, salt, organic corn starch, liquid smoke, organic garlic, organic onion powder, natural colour, organic spice and xanthan. It has a great balance of flavours: sweetness from the honey, sour from the vinegar, smokey from the obvious liquid smoke and spicy. It makes a great sauce on ribs, chicken or steak and it also makes a great dip for potatoes. 
Amazing Dad’s Honey Garlic BBQ Sauce: This variety is more on the sweeter side – probably due to the combination of sugar and honey. The ingredients include: organic honey, water, organic sugar, organic vegetarian chicken flavoured broth powder, organic vinegar, organic cornstarch, organic garlic, salt, xanthan gum and natural colour. This isn’t is great for dipping as the Original BBQ, but it makes a good sauce on BBQ-ed chicken thighs or chicken breasts. 
Organic Bodacious Tomato Ketchup: I love ketchup. I love it on (gf) mac & cheese, as a dip for french fries and the occasional potato, with chicken (sometimes even steak…gasp) and of course on my BLT. The downside to loving ketchup that much is the fact that what you think may be healthy is actually not so healthy – as most ketchups are loaded with sugar and don’t even really taste like tomatoes. The best thing about Honey Bunny’s Ketchup is that it actually tastes like tomatoes with a hint of honey sweetness. There is no added sugar and it reminds me of a watered down tomato paste. The ingredients include: water, organic tomato paste, organic honey, organic vinegar, salt, organic onion powder, organic garlic powder, organic spices and natural flavour.
Honey Bunny also carries creamed and liquid honey in pouches, jars and pails; bee pollen and lip balm. I love their Buzz Balm. It is very light weight, not sticky, soft and it smells wonderful. I have the Tangerine Lime which smells more limey than citrusy and the Green Tea Ginger, which has a very distinct ginger scent. Both balms have an underlying beeswax scent to them and the ingredient list is short and simple (including: sunflower seed oil, beeswax, jojoba seed oil, coconut oil and the corresponding flavours and scents).  

I am so impressed by this gluten free line of quality sauces, honey and beeswax. I think the easy to pour pouch is such a unique way of presenting a product and the fact that what’s in the pouch is delicious is a bonus. I would highly recommend checking out their list of retailers and I personally am eager to try more of their great product – including the Honey Lemon Rosemary BBQ Sauce and Organic Creamed Honey.

Now get out their and start up the BBQ!

Happy Easter fellow foodies!

I Heart You Hand Pies

I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. Life got busy! However, during these last few weeks I have been testing out lots of new products that I am excited to share with you. 
It’s been such a treat to have the snow melt and the robins chirp away the last couple of weeks. Until this morning when I woke up to snow outside! I didn’t think April snowfalls were such a thing. I guess that’s what you get for living in Canada, eh? With snow on the ground, it’s hard to imagine that Easter is just days away. Have you figured out your brunch, lunch and/or dinner menus? I thought I’d share with you a fun dessert that doesn’t take too much time to make and doesn’t require a serving spoon! Introducing: gluten free hand pies (which I love). 
If you were on Pinterest around Valentine’s day, you probably would have seen Pinterest exploding with various versions of the ‘hand-pie’. I thought they were way too cute to pass up, but I didn’t have a huge chunk of time to make gluten-free pastry dough. Fortunately Glutino pulled through with their Perfect Pie Crust Mix. The directions were very simple and it only took about an hour for the dough to chill in the fridge. The dough was easy to roll and the baked result was delicious. I was expecting the texture to be doughy and bread-like, but it was nice and flaky with a buttery flavour. For one of the fillings I chopped up a couple of apples (without the skin), mixed the pieces with brown sugar and caramelized them in a pan with some butter until tender – it was that simple! I cheated for the second filling and scooped some cherry jam out of a jar…easy peasy! 
11 steps to make your own hand pies:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
2. Prepare the dough as per instructions on the box (or use your own dough recipe)
3. Roll until half an inch thick 
4. Use a circular cookie cutter (about three inches in diameter) to cut the dough
5. Put a tablespoon of filling in the centre of one of the cutouts (bottom half)
6. With a second cutout (top half), cut a hole in the centre using a knife or a small cookie cutter (I used a small heart shaped cookie cutter)
7. Drape the top half (with the hole) on top of the filling to make a ‘sandwich’
8. With a fork, gently press the sides of the ‘sandwich’ to make pie indents 
9. Whisk one large egg with one tbsp of water to make an egg wash
10. Brush the tops and edges of the pies with the egg wash
11. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden 

Gluten Free Chocolate-Bacon Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

A chocolate-bacon cupcake with salted caramel frosting to top it off. I popped the bite size cupcake in my mouth and just laughed. The tastes were amazing. I love when something tastes SO good! The sweetness of the chocolate, saltiness of the bacon and the savoury dulce de leche cream cheese frosting married so well together.

When I received my March issue of Food Network Magazine, I got really excited to see that it was “The Bacon Issue”. I was more intrigued when I saw the feature on the cover that said “Wow! Chocolate-Bacon Cupcakes.” In December when I was at the Distillery District Christmas Market, I tried Leonard Pig Candy Chocolate Covered Bacon and I loved it. So I jumped on the idea of making these interesting cupcakes. I adapted the recipe to make to make it gluten free. These are a must try and a crowd pleaser. I served these to a bunch of ladies at a recent vino night and they were a hit (they also couldn’t even tell they were GF)!

Gluten Free Adaptation – Chocolate-Bacon Cupcakes with Dulche de Leche Frosting 

From Food Network Magazine (March 2014 | Volume 7, No. 2 | p. 132)
For the candied bacon:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
12 slices gluten-free bacon cut in half
For the cupcakes:
1 package of gluten free chocolate cake mix
1 tbsp instant espresso/coffee mix
For the frosting:
1 cup jarred dulce de leche
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sea salt for the topping
1. Make the candied bacon: preheat oven to 350 and set a rack on a foil-lined baking sheet. Whist the brown sugar, sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl. Toss bacon in the mixture until coated. Arrange bacon on the rack in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes until dark brown. Let cool. Chop the bacon into small pieces.
2. While the bacon cooks, prepare the cupcake batter. Follow the instructions on the gluten free chocolate cake mix and mix in the instant espresso. Alternatively, you may use your own gluten free chocolate cake recipe.
3. Prepare muffin tins with muffin cups. Fill muffin tins with batter until 3/4 is filled. I made mini, bite-sized cupcakes, which made 48. You can make regular sized cupcakes though, or even a cake. Follow the instructions on the box for bake times. Once cooked, remove to a rack and cool completely.
4. To make the frosting: beat the dulce de leche, cream cheese and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes (or cake). Top with candied bacon and sprinkle with sea salt.
The candied bacon was really delicious. Some parts were chewy, others were crunchy. It was deliciously sweet with a hint of smokiness and salt. I had left over bacon and the next day made a candied bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. It sounds weird, but you can’t judge it until you try! Yum! I can’t wait to make these again. Thank you Food Network for an amazing recipe that not only tasted beautiful but looked beautiful.

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!

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf

Warm, chewy, sweet, hearty, chocolaty-banana goodness. There’s not much more I can elaborate on with this home-baked, comfort food. The smell of banana bread baking in the oven is a nostalgic aroma that reminds me of the recipe my mom makes. Although this is delicious, I must admit that I do miss the gluten-filled banana bread that my mom makes…it’s really good and I have yet to replicate it with gluten free flour. 

Gluten-free Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf

1 3/4 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
4 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare the loaf pan by greasing it with cooking spray or butter and flouring it lightly. 

Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in one bowl until combined. In a second bowl, blend bananas, vegetable oil and eggs. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until combined – add in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for one hour until golden.

Gluten Free Oatmeal, Toffee, Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I have a little bit of a toffee obsession. I love the combination of chocolate and butterscotch/toffee, like seen in my Coconut Butterscotch Chocolate Brownies and my Cheesecake Pops. I also love sprinkling or drizzling it on top of thick Greek yogurt to make a yogurt parfait – thanks to Chobani for the inspiration! By the way, how much do you miss not having Chobani in Canada? I hope they come back soon! 

A craving for a warm oatmeal cookie kicked in yesterday afternoon, so I thought I would take it into my own hands and whip up a batch. I had a few toffee bits left from my last recipe and I thought they would make a good addition. And so they did!

The combination of chocolate and toffee in these oat-y, hearty cookies are amazing. It’s a great combination of flavours that really made my tastebuds happy. 

Gluten Free Oatmeal, Toffee, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg (or egg replacement – 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp white vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits 

Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until combined. Add in chocolate chips and toffee bits.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. 

Drop by tablespoon onto pan and flatten with back of spoon. 
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden.

*Warning, these cookies are extremely addictive. It’s not hard to eat more than one…or two…


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.

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’