Monday, February 27, 2012


I just want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement with Scott's gluten-free diet.

Many of you have sent meal ideas or recipes and I really appreciate it.

One friend (who is also gluten-free) dropped off some banana muffins with a recipe and a big bag of almond flour to get me started.

Another sweet friend sent me links to over 15 Gluten-Free websites filled with great recipes!  And she also introduced me to a great Gluten-Free bakery here in town.  I got some bread there and it was pretty tasty.

Scott still hasn't been officially diagnosed, but he's going to keep avoiding gluten for now as it has really helped with his overall health, especially the swallowing.

I am so blessed to have such amazing family and friends.

Thank You!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Library Day

We've been visiting the Library a lot lately.  Our kids are really into the Asterix & Obelix books right now, so we go back often to see if there is anything new.

On Monday I took Clara there for the Storytime Hour and she had fun singing, listening to stories, and meeting some new kids.  

Afterwards she made a Valentine for her friend.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

For Valentine's Day, I decided to attempt baking Chocolate Chunk Cookies for Scott. Gluten-free, of course.

I'm pretty picky when it comes to cookies, especially Chocolate Chip, so I was quite skeptical.

Also, a lot of Gluten-free recipes out there are also vegan, or worse, vegan and sugar-free.  I understand that people have dietary restrictions, but I'm thinking that if you can't eat butter, eggs, sugar, or flour, you might want to avoid cookies altogether.

Anyway, I decided to modify one recipe that looked pretty decent.  I cut out the various oils, stevia powders, honey, and other substitutes, and used as many good-old-fashioned cookie ingredients as I could (with the exception of flour).

Here's what I came up with:

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 package chocolate chunks

Cream butter and sugars.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Then add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.  Stir in choc. chunks.

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes, until golden around the edges, but barely done in the middle.  We like our cookies chewy.  Your oven may cook differently, so it's best to watch them closely the first time around.


The verdict:  these cookies were a hit!  So good and chewy right out of the oven.  And Scott said he really liked them, which made me very happy.  I'm a little more optimistic about Gluten-free baking now...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Valentine's Day in Numbers

116:  number of homemade valentines that were made for four school parties, one Activity Day exchange, and one preschool party

304: number of pink and red Pretzel Hugs made for valentine goodie bags and class parties

1: number of trips to the bulk barn to get other assorted valentine treats and wrappings for goodie bags

16: number of times Nathan had to write his name on the back of his valentines (he did such a great job and did most of them in one sitting)

57:  number of goodie bags made up for classes, piano teacher, visiting teachers, and friends

1:  number of cheese and cracker platters made up for Nathan's class party, since the teacher had requested something moderately healthy

465,279:  number of calories consumed by five kids in the form of chocolate and candy

17: number of calories consumed by five kids in the form of salmon, rice and veggies I cooked for dinner

12:  number of roses Scott brought home for me, even though I told him not to get me anything as we already went on a fun date Saturday night and have another date planned for this Friday

12:  number of pink flowers Scott brought home for Samantha, who was so excited to get her fist bouquet of flowers that she took them up to her room and fell asleep later with the flowers right beside her

1:  number of helium balloons Scott brought home for Clara, which she has not stopped dragging all around the house

0:  number of photos taken of kids on Valentine's Day

Scott's New Diet

Some of you may know that Scott has been having some health problems over the past 8 years or so.  One of the biggest issues is that he has had a lot of trouble with his esophagus, making it difficult, sometimes impossible, to swallow food or drink.

After several tests, years of seeing specialists, having scopes, getting his esophagus "stretched out" several times, trying prescription drugs, and more, nothing has helped.

Last fall our family doctor called up to let us know that a new test was being done regarding his condition and food allergies.  Scott agreed to try it out.

His first round of allergy testing was the typical pricks up and down the arm.  Nothing significant was found there.

The second round involved several metal plates attached to his back for 48 hours.  They tested for 20 different foods, and I'm not sure how they selected which foods to test for.

The results came back showing that he had a strong allergic reactions to soya and chicken.  And moderate allergic reactions to potato and cornmeal.  Wheat was inconclusive.

So, for 2 months Scott largely avoided 4 foods - chicken, potato, soya, or cornmeal.

By far the hardest one was the soya, as there is soy in so many foods.  If you read food labels you will know what I mean.  Soy is in almost every sauce and salad dressing.  It's in crackers, cookies, even things you would never think of such as Pam (non-stick spray) and chocolate bars.

I don't know that he completely avoided every single one of these for the entire 2 months, but he did pretty well overall.

The results?  Nothing.  Sometimes he would go a day or so and be able to swallow, but he didn't notice a marked improvement in his swallowing.

At Aunt Heather's funeral, we heard that his cousin has a very strong gluten allergy.  This is not surprising as Scott's Grandpa had celiac disease, and at least 2 of his aunt and uncles also had problems with gluten.

Scott has never been tested for gluten allergies or celiac disease, other than the metal plates which tested for wheat but were inconclusive.  However, with some encouragement from family members who were more familiar with the gluten problems in his extended family, he decided to add gluten to his list of foods to avoid, and has been gluten free since January 30.

During the 2 week period so far, he has not had any problems with his esophagus.

The only exception was once, 2 days ago, when he accidentally ate flour in a sauce at a restaurant and couldn't swallow a few hours later.

We're not jumping to conclusions, but it has been very interesting to witness him being able to eat and drink normally every day for the first time in many, many years.

If we find that this is the only lifetime solution to Scott's health problems, then I am ready to take on this new challenge.  I say "I" because, let's be honest, I do about 99.9% of the cooking and grocery shopping around here.

However, I'm very selfishly hoping he will be able to add in some of the other foods such as potato, chicken, and soy, as it is getting really hard to cook for the whole family. Many days I cook separately for Scott.

So far I have managed to cook a few dinners a week without chicken, soy, potatoes, pasta, bread, pizza, tortillas, etc.

But I think I can speak for the other 6 of us when I say that we are a little sick of rice.  Scott has said he will never tire of it.  What a trooper.  (Thank goodness he lived in Taiwan for 2 years.)  But he does miss the soy sauce, teriyaki, and other flavours that would usually go with it.

So, that's the update for now.  If you have any great meal ideas or recipes, please send them my way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recipe: Kale & Quinoa Soup

I made this soup yesterday for dinner.  Our good friends just moved on the weekend and we had them over for supper.  I served the soup with salad and garlic bread.

Everyone loved it, so I thought I'd share it while it's fresh in my memory.

This was based on a soup I found online, but I added a few changes of my own.

There seems to be a lot of hype about Kale these days.  It's some kind of super food.  Apparently I'm behind the times, because I have never bought or cooked with kale, ever.  But now I've tried it in both soup and salad and I love it!  It's so tasty.  I'm going to try it in smoothies next.

Kale & Quinoa Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 extra large carrots, diced
4 gloves garlic, minced (you can add less, if you don't love garlic)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (dried would work too)
1 tsp dried rosemary (fresh would work too)
2 tsp dried parsley
3/4 cup quinoa (rinsed)
8 cups vegetable stock
1 big bunch of kale, chopped (remove the stem parts)
2 cans of white kidney beans
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Saute the onions and carrots in olive oil.  When they are a bit brown and starting to be tender, add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley and stir well.

After 1-2 minutes, add the quinoa.  Let it saute for another minute, then add the stock.  Bring to a simmer, then add the chopped kale.

The kale only takes about 5-7 minutes to cook on low heat (it will turn a darker shade of green).  While it is simmering, drain your 2 cans of white kidney beans. One can is to go straight into the soup.  Dump the other can of beans into a bowl and mash them up with a potato masher or fork.  Then stir into the soup (this adds a nice texture to it).  Stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Take out the thyme stems.  Season with salt & pepper.