it's a crazy notion, but it could be true! gluten in dish soap?! there's no sense in washing your dishes in gluten, so check out the skinny here along with some great, accessible options for gluten free dish soap and dishwasher detergent!
quite the night it was! but how can we dive right into the details of a great gluten free party without first addressing the party shoes... these were them folks! they hid under a pub table all night long, and most likely weren't noticed by a single person, but i spent the evening fully aware that i had great shoes on my feet. and that, my friends, felt good.
alcohol. let's talk about that for a minute. i receive more phone calls and texts in regards to alcohol than any other gluten free conundrum. it's such a dodgy subject! i can't tell you how many times i've had texts come in saying "i'm at this restaurant, or that pub, and i don't know what to order to drink! what is safe?" and it's so so tricky. wouldn't it be nice if alcohol was labelled as gluten free just like food has begun to be!? here is where i get to introduce you to my new favorite vodka company, who's website welcomes us with these words: "100% gluten free distillation process"... the first vodka to be made from rice... drum roll please... m2 vodka. (also known as magic moments, hence the m times 2 ;)
m2 sponsored an event last night at a local pub in vancouver, called darby's public house - it's on the corner of 4th and macdonald, in kits. i was so pumped to be invited, i wouldn't have heard about it otherwise but am now fully equipped and excited to tell ya that it will, in fact, happen again in the coming months! but let's get back to the vodka, before i get onto raving about the food.
the alcohol itself is gluten free, and so are the flavorings!!! there were these amazing flavors - raspberry, lemongrass & ginger, chocolate... i kid you guys not, it was delicious. each course of the meal was paired with a cocktail, which we didn't know would be the case when we DROVE into the city...we had to pace ourselves, that's for sure! my date for the night was my handsome husband, marc - also known as the suder-man. here he is, thoroughly enjoying himself!
so this vodka... it is available all over the place at liquor stores, pubs & restaurants, and it's safe for us to drink!!! guys, this is a pretty great turn in the life and style of the gluten free, allowing us to just go ahead and order a drink while we're out without having to scour google on our iphones to find out what the venue has to offer us! m2 vodka. lock that one in your memory bank. if your favorite spots don't stock it, put in the request and they just might start!
now onto the food... oh man, it was amazing. isn't it so nice to have those experiences where you don't need to ask any questions? where you know that you're in a place that is safe for you, and you can just sit back and enjoy? that was the case, for sure. we met the chef, a.j., and he told us in detail how he sanitized the whole kitchen before preparing our food, and there wasn't an ounce of gluten in there while he was cooking for us all. a-mazing. here's what we ate:
the first course was paired with the lemongrass & ginger vodka
the second course was paired with the raspberry vodka, ribena, cassis & pineapple juice... my favorite!
and dessert was paired with chocolate vodka, kahlua & milk
go ahead. recreate them next time you have company. you know i'll be doing just that!
i can't fail to mention that darby's makes gluten free fare on a regular basis - a.j. and his crew are uber aware of what gluten free really means to us, and they have a separate grill, great precautions, etc, in order to avoid cross contamination. aside from their plans to host a gluten free event again, you can also hit them up for a meal whenever you'd like!
last, but not least, the company. we met some really fun new friends, and gabbed the night away! don't you just find that meeting great people makes life so rich? great people, great conversations, great food, great drinks, great date.
mucho thanks to mark @ m2 and a.j. @ darby's for such a rad experience!
and, don't tell the other people in the place, but marc and i played the game from date night - you know where tina fey and steve carell pick out different people in the restaurant, and make up what they think their story might be? we did that, and i haven't found the suder-man that funny in a while! he aced the game! you might want to try it on your next date, it was pretty awesome.
there was this really really good bread and butter-tasting situation at one of the booths this weekend - it was early on in my venturing through the expo, and i was like my husband in a bass pro shop - there was just so much to take in i hadn't yet managed to get a grip of myself. i ate the sample of bread, and then the same company's english muffin, and i was so taken with the buttery spread on them that i was probably borderline rude to the bread company. this "butter" was so good that i actually licked my fingers afterwards. i was the girl walking around the convention centre licking my fingers. not really the thing ya want to stand out for, but i was in a moment of pure enjoyment, not paying any attention to what was going on around me. i remember getting two or three booths down the hallway and still licking my fingers... weird, right?
and for whatever reason, i got distracted yet again and never went back to the bread booth, or the booth that had the "butter". but as i was driving home, clearly experiencing a solid crash in blood sugar after all of the sweet treats i had indulged in all day, all i could think about was the english muffin, the bread, and the "butter"... my goal for tomorrow is to get my hands on all of it, whole foods here i come!
the bread & english muffins are made by food for life - just go to their website and tell me you're not salivating a little bit looking at that picture. they use verified gluten free ingredients, their products are tested to ensure that they are safe for us, they're organic, vegan, including being egg free. brilliant. thank you food for life for giving me something to pine for all week!
the buttery spread is impressive - it is actually made of good ingredients! rawfoodz is the company behind my new crave, and the spread is called zen budda. it's made from all raw ingredients, including the best forms of olive oil, coconut oil, hemp, nutritional yeast.... it's good stuff. i will hope not to stoop as low as to lick my fingers after picking it up tomorrow, but ya just never know what a girl will do for some delicious food!
i'll report back on my quest for english muffins and healthy butter tomorrow. hope you all are having a great week, eating some scrumptious food, and getting healthier by the day!
later skaters -
let me start by telling you that i could have grocery shopped for a month at the expo on sunday - well, the bread and baking anyway! but i didnt, i held back and only purchased the things that really really grabbed me. so without further ado...
glutenull amarenth and buckwheat bread. i don't know about you, but i find that the majority of gluten free products are made from processed rice or corn flour, and hold very little nutritional value. i am so careful about what i feed to my family, ensuring that organic, non-medicated, whole & nutritionally dense foods make up the bulk of our diet. so to spend money on products that seriously lack nutrients has been a big challenge for me. as a result, we've significanly decreased the amount of processed/baked foods that we consume, and instead opted for from-scratch, homemade meals and snacks. but when you're 4, like dane, or 30 like me... sometimes ya just want something "normal", ya know what i'm saying? sometimes a good 'ol sandwich, or muffin, is exactly what the doctor orders. the beauty is, it's all starting to come together! companies like glutenull are combining the two - gluten free and great ingredients!
so this bread i bought... glutenull is the company, amarenth is the name of one of the loaves i bought, and buckwheat is the other.
the ingredients in the buckwheat bread, for example, are: organic buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, organic flax, water, baking powder, xanthum gum & sea salt. if you're stumped right now about this said gluten free bread being based on buckwheat, check out this article so appropriately named "what the buck...wheat?" to get the scoop. buckwheat flour is far more nutrient-rich than white rice flour, or brown rice flour, or corn flour, tapioca flour... you get the picture. i'm excited about these breads because they use real foods to create them, they're dense in texture, and soft - not crumbly. i'm impressed, and so is marc, my lovely husband who has eaten half the loaf since sunday... it's a big thumbs up from the suderman house, with the exception of dane - too many seeds for that little guy. we'll stick to rudi's gluten free multigrain for the time being and work our way up to buckwheat ;)
if you're local to the vancouver/fraser valley area, you can find glutenull products at whole foods, planet organic, thriftys, natures fare, iga marketplace, and it's coming soon to many more stores... if your local store doesn't yet carry it, a request to the manager goes a long way in my experience!!
giggles fun dough. this was one of my most highly anticipated booths, and it did not disappoint! the creators of this product were lovely, and the expo on sunday was their official launch! this gluten free "play dough" is by and large the closest thing out there to the original crayola play dough. we've tried, and come to enjoy, moon dough in the past, and it's served it's purpose, but it pails in comparison to this brilliant new product!! i can't wait for you all to check it out and let your kids (or yourselves) play with it on your kitchen tables without a worry in the world of contamination. dane was so excited to play with it when i brought it home that he didn't even have time to take off his hockey equipment, or finish his dinner - and he was so thrilled that he didn't need to wash his hands afterwards! no fragrances, artificial colors, and free of the top 10 most common allergens! we are excited about this product and i can't wait to see it on store shelves, in classrooms, and households everywhere!!! i've sent them a message to find out where you all can find it, and i'll let you know as soon as i find out! in the meantime, check out their site or their facebook page!
giddy yoyo raw chocolate. this is not the first time i've stuffed my purse full of these chocolate bars - after paying for them, that is. this is the most conscious, forward thinking yet grass-roots, health-filled company i've seen face to face. i love them. they have a whole product line of insanely healthy, whole foods and their chocolate is just the tip of the ice berg. i eat a piece a day, and kind of consider it part of my vitamins... i'm not kidding. i ate some this morning right before i jumped on a skype conference call. i looked in the mirror after the hour-long meeting and couldn't help but laugh at myself - i fully had chocolate not on my lips, but around my mouth. dark chocolate around my mouth. i tell ya, i'm one classy chick. back to what i bought... this time i bought 5 chocolate bars - orange, for dane, mint, extra dark, and two with spirulina. it's the only chocolate dane eats, and it is 76%-89% raw, organic cacao. check out their store locator page to find out where you can get your hands on this chocolate, and stuff it in your purse... after paying for it ;)
super lame without a picture, right? well rest assured that today i joined the dark side and got an iphone... sorry blackberry! i'm told by everyone under the sun that i will be able to take brilliant pictures - and if they're not brilliant, then i can enlist the help of instagram... i hope this can enrich your life through my blogposts ;)
these, my friends, are the products that compelled me enough to not want to part with them. that being said, there are a few other things that i have thought a lot about since... tomorrow i'll tell you all about the things i wish i would have bought, and where we can all go and find them!!
i would love love love to show you some fantastic pictures of what i found at the expo - the decadent baking, the copious amounts of bread, the massive amounts of our gluten free cohorts... but when i got home last night and sat down with my phone, on which i had taken all of these photos with great vision... they were terrible! not only are they aesthetically terrible looking, and blurry, but they definitely don't do justice to the upbeat, plentiful, buzzing atmosphere that was the essence of the show. but here is me, arriving home to my fellas who just couldn't wait to hear about my day's finds!
onto my highlight reel! i think there were three fantastic aspects of the show for me, personally.
1. having total freedom and being able to eat any sample in sight - no restrictions!!! at first i would walk up to a table, thrilled, that they were offering whole cookies as samples of their product. by table 100 i felt like "please don't give me a whole cookie, i'm so full and i just want a taste!". it was amazing.
2. being able to hear it right from the horse's mouth, and ask all of my questions. is your product made in a dedicated facility? does it contain dairy? soy? where can i buy it? do you have any coupons that i could pass onto my clients? ;)
3. the opportunity to make so many connections with great gluten free resources for you and i both. connecting with restaurants and bread companies, play dough manufacturers and magazine editors - it all led to bringing more value to what i can provide for my own family, and to you guys. super stuff.
now let's get to the nitty gritty - of all the things i sampled yesterday, what was the most delicious? what stood out? what did i bring home? and what am i most regretting not bringing home? what was the greatest new product?
today we will conquer the most delicious, because where else could we possibly start?
this, my friends, is a three-way tie between the gluten free epicurean, wow baked goods, and the sweet tooth cakery. i loved them each for different reasons, and could see them fitting into the lives of my blog-reading friends as well as my clients for sure.
after tasting products from these bakeries, it was a total toss up for me - but after tasting samples from tens of bakeries throughout the day, these guys were by far my front runners. two of them got me with their cakes, and one with their cookies - they were moist, had great flavor, and the texture was so enjoyable. i have made many a cake and cookie myself, and i always notice the difference between the gluten-containing ones i used to bake and the gluten free ones i now create by the dryness and the coarse texture. each of these teams of bakers i'm about to highlight have found a brilliant way to provide moist, soft creations that are delicious!
the gluten free epicurean, vancouver, bc
if you're looking for healthy and/or vegan options, and you live in the greater vancouver area, then i'd say the gluten free epicurean is your go-to place. they have gluten free baking with dairy and eggs, which is really, really good, but they also cater to dairy free and vegan needs which i think is tough to find while still including flavor, texture and consistancy. my impression is that the epicurean puts more emphasis on nutrition, locally sourced fare, ingredients true to their roots and with little inclusion of chemicals, pesticides, etc. i love that - i am a healthy foodie, and any chance to nutrient our bodies while feeling like we're indulging is a win-win situation that i will whole-heartedly embrace!! i highly recommend popping in there if you're in the area, and treating yourself to some bites of amazingness!
the wow baking company, many retail locations across north america
while we're on the topic of cookies, my favorite cookies of the day were made by wow baking company. these do have dairy in them, and you can tell! they are soft, they stay together as you eat them, and they're amazing - probably one of the most impressive products that i taste-tested. every flavor was just as moist as the next, and had the perfect consistancy, but the snickerdoodles really tugged at my heart strings. there's something about a good snickerdoodle that makes me feel a little bit like a western washington local - well a wannabe, really. check out their site to find out where you can get your hands on these cookies, they are not limited to the greater vancouver area!
the sweet tooth cakery, north vancouver, bc
if you're looking for gluten and dairy free, and straight up indulgence, i am really impressed with the cakes from the sweet tooth cakery. i took dane (our 4 year old son) there today for a special treat, and the excitement he had over being able to choose from almost anything in the store was so much fun! i bought him everything he asked for, and made sure to let the girls at the shop know that i would never react like this at a toy store - true story - but seeing him bask in the ability to eat almost anything in sight was too exciting to resist. i caved, and didn't even remember how to say the word "no"!
we came home with a chocolate cupcake with dairy free buttercream raspberry icing, a carrot cake with dairy free maple icing, a ginger molasses loaf, and some chocolate chip cookies that will find a temporary home in our freezer and be pulled out for special treats. we also quickly and silently inhaled a vanilla coconut cupcake with buttercream icing as soon as we got in the car. no kidding, we were silent. you know it's good when....
so i give a major thumbs up for the cupcakes, i would buy those again without a doubt. same would go for their cakes as i sampled those on sunday and that's what initially reeled me in. they make brilliant wedding cakes and beauties for special occasions. if i'm being honest, which i hope you expect from me, the ginger loaf was really dry and the cookies were lack luster. in fairness, the cookies were marked down so that could be because they are nearing the end of their shelf life, i'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe try them again next time. i wouldn't, however, recommend the loaf or the cookies, regardless of how good they looked in the package! i'm feeling good things for the carrot cake though - i'm so tempted to taste it tonight but i should probably wait until dane starts eating it, distract him, and steal a bite as to not deprive him of his beloved treats... somehow i feel like that is a better plan than having a bit while he's sleeping ;)
these are the first of my favs - in the category of most delicious.
tomorrow.... what did i bring home? i will fill you in on what excited me enough to buy it and carry it around for the next 4 hours, how we've been enjoying it over the last few days, and where you can get your hands on it. stay tuned for highlights all week - even if you didn't make it to the expo yourself, allow me to breathe a breath of fresh air into your everyday gluten free life!
here's the plan my friends - every monday, i will give you a product review of something gluten free related. i will give you the good, the bad, and the ugly to help you navigate your way through a life of gluten free products. being the eternal optimist that i am, i will likely try to put forth products that i think are great, but when i come across something that i really don't love, i'll make sure you know about it ;)
let's begin... drumroll please.....
this week's product highlight is:
pamela's pancake and baking mix!
i LOVE this stuff. i'm just going to put it out there that i'm not the greatest baker in the world (and clearly, nor am i a food photographer), so the opinion that is coming at ya could be perfectly aimed towards those of you who are also not ready to open a bakeshop.
we started out using it for pancakes, because after trying every pancake mix on the market i fell in love with this one - i love the texture, it doesn't feel like rice flour, it doesn't taste like bean flour, it just tastes like pancakes. apple pancakes, banana pancakes, blueberry pancakes.... we love them all in our house. and they're even more delish when made in coconut oil...
then, i needed to make something for company coming over one day, and didn't have all of the 5 flours i needed in order to make a gluten free flour mix that was somewhat decent... you know what i'm talking about, right!? rice, tapioca, guar gum, potato starch.... so i went out on a limb and used the pamela's mix.
a-mazing. i have since stuck completely to pamela's for muffins, and have also used it with great success for dumplings, banana bread, cupcakes and cakes.
the recipe for muffins on the back of the bag is:
1-1/4 cups pamela's mix
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup honey (or 1/4 cup sugar)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fruit: bananas, peaches, berries, etc.
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
here are my favorite combos of the moment, you'll notice i double the amount of pureed/mashed fruit suggested. i find this makes for more moist muffins.
1. apple cinnamon muffins:
(no walnuts, add apple sauce and double the amount that it calls for. add chopped apples & cinnamon)
i served these warm with sugar butter... yes, this is as good as it sounds. i mix softened butter with brown sugar, and voila - it is amazingness on these muffins!!!
2. banana muffins:
(double the amount of mashed banana)
3. coconut apricot:
(coconut milk instead of water, be sure to double the amount because you're using dried fruit in this one.
add chopped dried apricots & dried, shredded coconut sprinkled on top)
*coconut milk is also amazing with blueberries or peaches!
*try substituting 1/4 cup of gf oats for 1/4 cup of baking mix for some heartier muffins.
or if you want to add some extra fiber, i like to substitute that same amount of
bobs red mill mighty tasty hot breakfast cereal as it has whole grain brown rice and buckwheat in it, making your muffins just a little bit healthy ;)
*warning - the bobs red mill breakfast cereal is great, the gf all purpose flour, however, is my least favorite of all that i've tried. it has a very strong, very distinct bean flavor and i really don't like the stuff. to each their own, but i'd point you towards pamela's and away from bob's on this one.
so my friends, i dare you to try out pamela's and rid yourself of that awful headache that is: gluten free flour, especially when you're making muffins, banana bread, zuccini loaf, those sorts of things. you can buy it in two sizes, i always buy the bigger bag as i go through it fairly quickly - i am a chronic inviter, which means i have people in my house more days out of the week than not, and i never want them to be hungry!
as for cookies... stay tuned, very soon we'll have our resident expert sharing her cookie baking wisdom with us!