Posts Categorized: Happiness is…

FEAST your eyes

 

The first thing you notice is the fabulous fork wallpaper.

How fabulous is this graphic fork wallpaper?

 

These chocolate donuts were my life.

But even more fabulous are these Triple Chocolate Love donuts. (It’s always all about the donuts.)

 

This summerFEAST  landed on Queen West across from Trinity Bellwoods Park, adding to the 'hood's cool factor. Toronto's first allergy-friendly gourmet food store, FEAST prides itself on catering to the allergic and sensitive types. Just our kind of place.

We are at FEAST. Toronto’s first allergy-friendly gourmet food store landed on Queen West across from Trinity Bellwoods Park, adding to the ‘hood’s cool factor. FEAST prides itself on catering to the allergic and sensitive types. Just our kind of place.

 

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Part bakery, part grocery store, FEAST is celiac friendly, with no trace of gluten—or any of the top 8 food allergens. This allows me to order my daughter Lily’s food with ease and confidence because there is zero risk of cross-contamination, a godsend for someone with celiac disease. And have I mentioned that the food is delicious?

 

V is for vegan.

V is for vegan, as in the vegan curried black bean pocket pie I devoured. The perfect comfort food—warm and savoury and bursting with flavour—made with love in the store’s 100% gluten-free kitchen.

 

Lily had the meat pie.

X marked the spot for Lily, who gobbled up the beef pocket pie…

 

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all the while soaking up the world’s second-coolest ‘hood from her window seat.

 

A little circle of gluten-free love.

She chased it with this cinnamon sugar donut.

 

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We couldn’t leave the store without a couple of these coconut milk caramels, made with raw organic cacao nibs and crispy rice cereal, and we’re glad we didn’t!

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5 things making me happy this week

Some are gluten free, some have nothing to do with gluten at all.

Avocado goat cheese toast=GF toast, avocado, honey goat cheese, pepper, lime juice

With more than 6,000 toasts tagged, New York magazine calls it “the most annoying food on Instagram.” We call it delicious. Our avocado toast, made with Organic Works gluten-free quinoa and honey bread, is topped with honey goat cheese, hemp seeds, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a pinch of black pepper.

 

Shopping up a storm at Canada's Gluten Free Marketplace.

Enjoying all the yummy gluten-free goodies we bought at Canada’s Gluten-Free Market (did we go overboard with the GFG branding?).

 

Feasting on Chinese food takeout from Riz! The General tao chicken was gone in a blink!

Feasting on gluten-free Chinese takeout from Riz on Bayview! I highly recommend the General Tao chicken.

 

A tall cold refreshing glass of Thornbury Apple Cider, which I pronounce my drink of summer 2014!

Washing down the Chinese food with a cold sparkling glass of Thornbury Apple Cider—gluten free and made in Ontario! I picked it up at the LCBO. My official bevvy of summer 2014!

 

Kicking off World Pride in our own backyard. Happy Pride!

Kicking off World Pride Toronto in our own backyard. Happy Pride!

 

5 things that made me happy last week

 Some are gluten free, some have nothing to do with gluten at all.

The Ellen selfie. We had to do it. Dinner at Tabule during Gluten Freedom Week with gluten-free gal pals (clockwise from top left): Urban Acorn Catering's Marie Fitrion, Gluten Freedom Week founder Rachael Hunt,

A delicious Middle Eastern dinner (gluten-free falafel!) at Tabule during Gluten Freedom Week with a bunch of brilliant gluten-free gals (from left): Urban Acorn Catering‘s Marie Fitrion, Gluten Freedom Week founder Rachael Hunt, Victoria Yeh of GlutenFreeToronto.com, GlutenFreeFind.com‘s Lisa Cantkier, Dine Aware founder Paula Cooper, yours truly, and nutritionist Sarah Maughan.

 

Fresh basil from the farmers' market. Best smell ever.

The smell of fresh basil from the farmers’ market.

 

Homemade pizza with O'Doughs Flax Pizza Crust topped with goat cheese, Parmesan, red peppers, red onion, broccoli and sundried tomatoes.

DIY pizza with O’Doughs Flax Pizza Crust topped with pesto, goat cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, red pepper, broccoli, purple onion, sundried tomatoes and, of course, fresh basil.

 

Eating homemade granola yogurt parfait with fresh seasonal berries on my back porch.

Eating homemade granola yogurt parfait with fresh seasonal berries on my back porch.

 

A sign.

A sign.

 

5 things making me happy this week

 

Some are gluten free, some have nothing to do with gluten at all.

Mango hedgehog

Mango hedgehogs.

 

The fleeting flowers on the magnolia trees

Magnolia blossoms.

 

Our nutritional consultation with Sarah Maughan

Holistic nutritionist Sarah Maughan (Empower Your Body with Food). As someone living with a gluten allergy, she really gets it. At our consultation with her, Lily and I both learned so much more about healthy gluten-free eating. We’ve already started to incorporate some of Sarah’s nutritional tips (1/4 lemon in warm water each morning before eating to aid in digestion) and can’t wait to whip up some of her recipes. Happy gut = happy gluten-free girl!

 

My new books

3 new books by women I admire who are spreading the gluten-free gospel. One of them, Joy McCarthy, was a guest speaker at the last Gluten Free Garage and will hopefully inspire us again at our next event!

 

Bunners cookies homemade

Homemade chocolate chip cookies from Bunner’s Bakeshop‘s new cookbook AND the news that Bunner’s is opening a second gluten-free vegan bakery in Kensington Market!

 

 

she’s come a long way, baby

This is what 8 looks like.

This is what 8 looks like. My happy, healthy, vibrant girl, gluten free for more than four years now.

 

This is what 3 looked like.

This is what 3 looked like. Lily’s big bloated belly was a startling contrast to her skinny arms and legs.

 

We had asked her pediatrician about it at a few appointments. He said there were other children in his practice who had big bellies like this, it would go down. My mother-in-law said, “This is what Robbie’s body looked like when he was her age.” Lily was a super happy girl and rarely complained of tummy aches. Until Christmastime 2009, when for three nights in a row she awoke in the middle of the night, throwing up. Thinking it was the stomach flu, I took her to the doctor, who prescribed a medicine for acid reflux. That night she threw up again and I took her back to the doctor the next day. This is not acid reflux. Look at her belly. It’s getting bigger. He ran some blood tests and asked for my consent to test her for celiac disease. (It’s $60—OHIP doesn’t cover the cost of the celiac blood panel. Ontario is the last province not to cover the test. Shame!)

The call came a few days later. Lily’s test came back positive and her doctor said that her autoantibody levels were so high that he had no doubt she has celiac disease. He would refer us to a gastroenterologist. That night my husband and I took to our laptops and Googled celiac, gluten and gluten-free food into the wee hours.

What was this celiac disease? And what on earth was gluten? I soon learned that Lily was lucky to have been diagnosed at such a young age, before too much damage was done. She didn’t have to suffer the brutal symptoms of celiac for long, nor did her disease require a lifetime on meds. But the more my husband and I read about the gluten-free diet, the more overwhelmed we felt. Finally, we decided to turn our house into a full-on gluten-free zone so that eating could still be a positive, safe and joyful experience for Lily.

The next day we cleaned out our kitchen and Lily went gluten free (and so, by default, did we). In time I read about the importance of having an intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, but my gut told me to get this girl off gluten. (When we eventually met with Lily’s gastroenterologist, she said it was rare for her to not recommend the biopsy but she was convinced that Lily had celiac, based on her symptoms, blood test and how she was thriving off gluten.)

 

Lily, pre-diagnosis, eating big bowl of fettucine.

Lily, pre-diagnosis, eating a big bowl of fettuccine. When I look at this photo, I feel sick that we were inadvertently poisoning her.

 

In retrospect, there were other signs besides her big belly that indicated something might be up. Lily had dark circles under her eyes, even though she was getting enough sleep at night. And she was tired, oftentimes falling asleep on her teacher’s lap in the afternoon, so we switched her to morning nursery. It’s no wonder that she was so fatigued, she was on the verge of anemia, as her iron counts showed. She also didn’t seem to be growing at the same pace as her pals—”failure to thrive,” as it’s put.

 

Lily's face in this photo.

And then there was Lily’s face in this photo, taken months before her diagnosis. We had just left a restaurant where we celebrated my younger daughter’s birthday. Lily didn’t say anything about not feeling well but she looks so uncomfortable in this photo, like she’s in pain. It breaks my heart.

 

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