60 day gluten & dairy free challenge

Grain Free Granola






Cherry Coconut Pudding



Of course the best time to go Paleo is right after Easter when the kids still have all their Easter chocolate hanging around right?

What’s interesting about having tweens is no longer can I simply decide that we’re going to try more raw veggies, or have fish 4x per week….well I can decide that, but they can also decide to put up a revolt.  And I have no interest in instigating an insurrection.

So we’ve been talking about sugar and it’s impact on how you feel, the work you can do at school, whether you get hungry or hangry etc.  We’ve been talking about how there’s been more and more dairy/wheat creeping in since we moved into short-term housing.  We’ve been talking about how much they like being self sufficient in the AM.  Can you say raisin bran with cow milk?  (don’t judge…. we’ve all made the easy choice on occasion).

We were so busy talking about this gluten free, dairy free, low sugar experiment – that it was easy to say “let’s start April 1”.  So easy in fact that I forgot to prepare.  I did spend one evening tossing any of the old food. And I might have bought more veggies than normal, but I did not meal prep or plan for the first week.  Big mistake.  It’s one thing to have more veggies, or less processed food.  It’s a whole other level to go 100% in — 3 meals a day from home, no processed food.  Can’t emphasis the need to plan ahead enough.

Someone tried to make their own guacamole
Someone tried to make their own guacamole


Week 1 was bumpy.  Week 2 was better as I spent most of Sunday afternoon prepping breakfasts, school lunches and post swimming snacks. Week 3 is next week.  I need a full meal plan and shopping list.  And I will need to get smarter about the time it takes — no way I’m spending every Sunday locked in the kitchen.

A twist on buying local

There’s a chain mail going around the internet (excerpt posted below) encouraging all of us to spend a few more minutes thinking not just about buying local produce, but about buying local goods.  This to me makes a modicum of sense.  I’m not thrilled with the idea of buying toothpaste made in China or Mexico.  And, if there’s a way to keep a factory going in some small town in Ontario, Quebec or wherever, I’d rather be doing that, than sending my money oversees.  I’ve started looking at labels for toothpaste, clothing, duct tape, etc.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much of this stuff is made in Canada.

My city councilor must travel in the same e-mail circles as me, as her last newsletter mentioned buying Canadian toothpaste and lightbulb.  Here’s the version of the e-mail that made it to my inbox:

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowe’s the other day and just for the heck of it I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Home Hardware and, just for the heck of it, I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in Canada.  Start looking.

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else – even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this woman is on the right track. Let’s get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey’s candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now.  I do not buy it any more. My favourite toothpaste – Colgate – is made in Mexico now.  I have switched to Crest.  You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Wal-mart.  I needed 60W light bulbs.  I was in the light bulb aisle and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labelled, “Everyday Value.”  I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats – they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand, but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in – get ready for this – in Canada in a company in Ontario.

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in Canada; the job you save may be your own or your neighbour’s!

Giving CSAs a chance

To say things have been busy since returning to work, would be an understatement.  #1 tip from BytownMom about returning to work:  have your childcare arrangements locked in stone!  Since letting our nanny go, we’ve been going between our bouncing between babysitters and family and no one, especially our three year old, knows which way is up.

Accordingly, we’re looking for a couple of ways to simplify things around here.  The first one is not: stop driving across town to get our fruits and veggies.  They are going to be delivered to a cooler on our doorstep on Wednesdays.  As I’m not quite sure what’s in this week’s box, I’m going to menu plan once I see what I’ve got.

From the CSA options I discovered earlier this season, I’ve decided to start with Ottawa Organics, as you can add lots of fruit to your order, on top of the veggies.  Stay-tuned for menu planning to pick back up on Friday.

Menu – June 29

For my first week back at work, I have some fast and easy recipes, that make good left over lunch material. The chef salad is from Fine Cooking, but I couldn’t find a link to the recipe.

Sunday: Malasian Sambal – from the World Food Cafe, my favorite cookbook
Monday: Mexican Chopped Saladyummy lime, orange juice, cumin, garlic salad dressing!
Tuesday: Modern Chef Salad ( I’m making mine with with edamame, chickpeas and shrimp in place of your standard deli meat and cheese, here’s a collection of chef salad recipes)
Wednesday:  Burgers & Sausages (veggie… of course), roast potato salad, ceasar salad (hopefully from the garden)
Thursday: Make your own Pizza on a Pita
Friday: Shrimp & Coconut Milk Vermicelli Soup

Menu: June 22

I flipped through the ‘quick and easy’ section of my homemade recipe book.  I’m keeping things light and easy.

Monday: Chicken Souvlaki on toasted bulgur pilaf, fennel & parsley salad
Tuesday: Smokey Black Bean and Spinach Wraps – we’re skipping the cheese
Wednesday: Black-eyed pea Salad with Jalapeno Dressing & Heirloom Tomato Lime Salad
Thursday: Left Overs
Friday: Vegan Mac and Cheese –  I couldn’t resist trying this one out
Saturday: Easy Chana Masala, Cucumber Salad, Indian Greens – a quick and easy menu from Martha S


Slouvaki Kabbobs

Pumpkin seeds
Celery Seed
Black Mustard Seed

Red onion
Assorted tomatoes
Limes x2
Grape Tomatoes
Cucumbers x3

From Garden: Swiss Chard & Spinach

Menu – June 14

  • Sunday – Black Bean Soft Tacos I’m going to wing it, but have linked to a recipe
  • Monday – Lentil Soup with Yogurt & Indian Spiced Spaghetti Squash (with the leftover squash from the other night)
  • Tuesday – Roast Chicken (thai peanut marinade) with roast beans and carrots (these were what was on sale in my produce section)
  • Wednesday – Roll your own California Rolls – It’s a lot of work to make sushi and depressing to see destructed so quickly by a three year old. This way everyone has fun with assembly and I don’t spend nearly as long in the kitchen
  • Thursday – Vietnamese Style Chicken Salad – using left over chicken from Tuesday
  • Friday – Jicama, Watercress & Grapefruit Salad – I prefer grapefruit to the listed oranges



Vegatable oil
Frozen organic shrimp (no carried by Loblaws… no salt added), or imitation crab 
Soft tortillas
Shelled peanuts
Coconut Milk
Anchovies (or paste)
Wasabi, Pickled Ginger, Nori sheets

Sour Cream

2 vegetables – carrots & beans
Cillantro x 2
Green onion x2
Cabbage (or bag of slaw)
Avocado x3
Grapefruit x2
Limes x3

Already in my fridge: onion, garlic, lettuce, salsa, rice, lentils, yogurt, spices, whole chicken

Spaghetti Squash

My son is intrigued with the idea of a vegetable that when cooked it going to turn into spaghetti.  Accordingly on tonight’s menu is Spaghetti Squash with Cherry Tomatoes, from Canadian Living.  

It will still be a while before I can make this recipe with tomatoes from the garden.  Tonight’s dinner will be graced with one cherry tomato from the backyard.  I’d let the little one pick it, but he has a tendancy to eat our produce before it has a chance to makes its way indoors.

My favorite thing about cooking spaghetti squash is that all you need to do is pop it in the oven.  There’s no need to labour with a knife, trying to cut through the squash.  The whole thing goes in the oven and then when it’s soft you can slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and serve.  


Aside from taste, my favorite thing about eating spaghetti squash is that it’s a vegetable and as such is super low in calories, has 0g of fat and reasonable from a fiber perspective.

No menu plan for this week

That’ not a good sign.  I have many, miscellaneous vegetables in the fridge, dried beans, spaghetti noodles and spices in the cupboard, but not plan.  My husband’s going back to work this week, which means I’m home along with the boys.  It will be hard enough to make dinner, but without a plan the week will not be a showcase for my best cooking. 


We bought a ‘lobok’ last week at the grocery store.  When my son asks what something is, I usually try to tell him.  We’re allowed to pick up one thing that’s not on our list at the store, and last week it was a lobok. I looked it up and apparently you can use it in place of “Daikon radish” and I know I’ve seen Daikon in recipes.  Now to scour the cookbooks during the boys nap time to find recipes.


Coincidentally, when I googled lobok, one of the first responses to come up, was a definition provided by our grocery store.  I love Produce Depot.  For consistency of quality they are unmatched in the city.   That’s a bit of a fib, Herb and Spice on Wellington is better, but I simply can’t afford to shop there every week.  It was one thing when I was single and my bill there would hit $100, but when I shop there for my family now, I’m buying $150-200 worth of vegetables and and handful of staples, it’s simply not affordable.  

But back to Produce Depot.  It’s fabulous, there are two locations one at Carling and Maintland and the other on Bank Street.  You can’t go wrong with either location and the prices as fabulous, more often than not they are less that Loblaws or what ever the chain grocery store is near your house, but the flavour of their produces is fantastic.

My mini-me is down for the count

Not that I think any of you are following through to the Nike site, but for all the times my ego takes a hit and I confess to not hitting a goal or scaling back an ambition, I wanted to add that my Nike sensor/pedometer dodad has lost it’s juice.  I need to replace it, but since this is haircut week, I don’t have the $$ to get a new one.   I’m still walking and running. maybe not as much as I could be, but not at couch potato status either.

I thought I was just slacking off…

But no, I wasn’t taking it easy, taking a break from loosing weight, not being as diligent at tracking my food.  No, that’s not what I’ve been doing, I’ve been flat out off the weight loss plan and gaining weight.  Yikes.   I’m up 2lb from January 1. 

One of the things that weight watchers emphasizes, is that you can eat anything you want, you just need to manage portions, eat when you’re hungry and make healthy choices most of the time.  At this stage it seems to me like this is a bit like telling an alcoholic that there are benefits to be had from red wine and to drink it in moderation.   There is no moderation for me.  If I eat dessert, I eat another the next day and then another the day after that.  Next thing you know you’re eating a spoonful of Nutella and wondering why the weight isn’t coming off.  Yes, the later is a true story.  The Nutella was pitched in the bin after that incident.  There is no moderation around here.