Edible Options Gluten-Free Bakery

Every year my husband participates in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer here in Ontario and joins about 4500 other cyclists in riding from Toronto to Niagara Falls in the name of raising funds for cancer research.

While he cycles in whatever weather Mother Nature throws his way, I travel with our daughters and my sister to Niagara Falls so we can camp out at the finish line and cheer for the riders as they cross the line.

This year, my husband was one of only 97 riders (out of just over 4500) that took on the added challenge of a 260+ km course called The Hammer. I’m proud to say, not only did he complete the entire route, but he crossed in the best shape of all the 12 years of the ride thus far. I am blown away by the amount of time and effort it takes to train for this ride and my hat goes off to all the riders.

Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer – Ride #12, The Hammer

Dedicated Gluten-Free Bakery

Before we left town last week, I was told that if I was going all the way to Niagara Falls, that I must stop at a little gluten-free bakery in St. Catharines for what is claimed to be THE BEST gluten-free bread anywhere.

I hadn’t heard of the bakery so I looked it up…Edible Options is a dedicated gluten-free bakery that offers vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free baked goods. Always ready to try and support anyone in their gluten-free endeavors (and excited to support anyone who works in a dedicated gluten-free shop as I do), I put it in the back of my mind and made note to try and visit the bakery if time allowed.

Thankfully we were able to take the time to stop in St. Catharines on the way home and wow! The gushing reviews online were not overstated!

As soon as we opened the bakery door, we were greeted with incredible smells of fresh-baked goods that had everyone in our group drooling (gluten eaters included). The bakery is an industrial-style cafe with plenty of room to shtop and enjoy whatever you’re lucky enough to buy and try. Almost immediately I was getting asked ‘are you sure it’s gluten-free’ because 1) there were no signs anywhere saying so, and 2) everything looked incredible!

I went straight for the bread and stood in awe at the height and size of their loaves. It was the first thing I ordered, without hesitation – two multigrain loaves, and one cheese & herb. Only then did I wander along the counter to check out the rest of the goods. The staff were fantastic.. patient, and smiling at how happy and excited we all were to be there.

By the time I’d ordered the bread and the staff had sliced all three loaves for me, everyone in my group had their eyes on something they wanted. They all ordered something different for the long ride home: shortbread cookies, ginger cookies, chocolate whoopies, coconut bombs, banana crumble muffins…there were so many options. I was truly in Heaven…EVERYTHING GLUTEN-FREE! Believe me, it’s not very often I get to walk into a bakery and choose anything I want and know that it will be safe.

I was told that the best way to keep the bread was on the counter (wait, what?!) and NOT in the fridge. Unheard of for gluten-free bread! Yep, apparently the bread will keep for about 7-9 days (seriously?!) but it does also freeze well if I wanted to go that route. I smiled but secretly didn’t believe the cheerful young lady behind the counter.

I don’t think we were even out of the parking lot before everyone in the car began eating their treats and started with the gasps of delight, trading bits of their items for bits of someone else’s so everyone could try everything.

The Best Gluten-Free Bread

Back at home, I immediately broke open the loaves of bread. Gorgeous!

My youngest was into them right away and without anything on it, ate a slice. She was two steps away when she turned around and asked for more saying it was the best bread EVER! That’s all it took…my eldest was right behind her begging to try. Yet again, BEST BREAD EVER! Now neither of my kids has to eat gluten-free (and generally prefer not to) so needless to say, none of the loaves I bought will make it to the freezer. As for the claims of the bread lasting 7-9 days out on the counter, I’ll let you know….if any of it lasts that long.

 

July 2019 UPDATE: Ok, so the bread was amazing and YES, it did last 7 days on the counter! Just how good was it? I’m off on a 4 hour road trip tomorrow to get more!! And this time, I ordered ahead. Bringing home a car full of goodies.


Garden View Tea Room – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

We have been fortunate enough to enjoy afternoon tea in the Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa many times over the years, and it has become a family tradition for every trip.

Garden View Tea Room tea pot and cover

Sweet Curry Chicken

That’s because my family knows that if there’s one must-have food item I need to eat every time I go to Walt Disney World, it’s the Sweet Curry Chicken finger sandwiches at the Garden View Tea Room.

These little delights haunt me in the best possible way.

It’s the one recipe I cannot duplicate when I get home, and believe me, I’ve tried. And tried. And tried.

Garden View Tea Room

The Disney Dining Plan is not accepted in the tea room, so it’s worth noting that this is an extra expense if you typically use a dining plan as we do.

There are a few different packages at different price points on the menu, but we love The Bedfordshire Tea package (the least expensive package) which includes assorted finger sandwiches, a scone, your choice of dessert, and of course your choice of tea from their vast menu. There is no shortage of food here so be sure to go hungry!

 

A Delightful Gluten-Free Tea Experience

I’m the only one in our family that has to follow a gluten-free diet, and the chefs never disappoint when it comes to my personal tea experience.

Gluten-Free Finger Sandwiches

As with their standard menu, there is a gluten-free assortment of finger sandwiches that come on fresh gluten-free bread and they are amazing! The selection can vary but my plate pictured above included egg salad, sweet curry chicken, tomato, cucumber, and poached pear (did I mention there is plenty of food?).

gluten free cakes and spreadsThe scones on the menu are the one difference and for anyone dining gluten-free, they are replaced with different breads (snack cake style), but you won’t miss the scone and you still get to enjoy the trio of spreads that everyone else does: strawberry jam, clotted cream, and lemon curd. Again, amazing! macaroons inside view

As for dessert, I always enjoy the plate of sweet macaroons that go perfectly with those last few drops of tea.

While the entire menu is tasty, I can’t help but hold a sweet spot for that curry chicken. I have created my own sweet curried chicken salad recipe at home which is close, but that magical ingredient is sadly missing.

My hunt for that perfectly duplicated recipe continues and every time I find a recipe for curried chicken somewhere that looks close to what I imagine the Disney recipe must be, I test it. I’ve had no luck so far, but I’m enjoying the process. And if it means I have to keep visiting the Garden View Tea Room in hopes of getting my fix, so be it.


What’s for Breakfast? (Tuna Cakes Recipe)

Let’s talk breakfast.

If you’re like me, you’ve got four or five go-to choices that you rotate through for your morning meal (and you’re probably getting tired of them), but what are they and how different are our choices from someone else’s?

I never really thought much about it until this past week at work when my boss and I shared a funny moment. First thing in the morning, I had to make a Tex-Mex salad that contained cilantro (not one of my favourite herbs) and jalapeno. As a chef, I have to taste everything I make and salad is no exception. Testing for seasoning, I jokingly commented ‘there’s nothing like eating cilantro and jalapeno first thing in the morning’ and made a nasty face as I tasted my forkful. My boss looked up and said ‘this from the girl who has tuna for breakfast.’

Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Gluten-Free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

It’s true. I eat tuna for breakfast. Tuna cakes are one of my go-to options in the morning. Full of chopped vegetables and quinoa flakes, they’re a perfect breakfast option for me: sometimes with an egg, sometimes with toast, sometimes on toast as a tuna melt.

I’m not a cereal or pancake person so I guess I don’t have your standard breakfast favourites. Typically I rotate through:

  • tuna cakes (with or without egg or toast)
  • toasted salmon salad sandwich
  • breakfast burrito
  • breakfast hash (with sweet potato, red peppers, onion, egg, salsa…whatever)
  • poached eggs and toast
  • egg on an English muffin, sandwich style
Disney's Kona coffee and donuts

Disney’s Kona Blend coffee and donuts

These are my norms and I think nothing of them (none of them contain cilantro or jalapeno), and all of them are always accompanied with a big mug of coffee (for the safety of others of course).

My one rule is ALWAYS breakfast. I never skip it. Sure there are days I don’t want much or I don’t feel like cooking something, but on those days I’ll grab or defrost a muffin, some berries, a banana with peanut butter, or indulge in my favourite treat, a Disney-style donut. But always something.

Even when we go out for breakfast, I stick to the old stand-by of eggs and toast, but I think that has more to do with being gluten-free and the lack of safe options more-so than anything else. Unless of course I’m at Walt Disney World where I can get a buffet of choices… but that’s a whole other post for a later date.

I’m sharing my tuna cake recipe with you and hopefully you’ll share some of your favourite breakfast options as well. I’m always looking for new and different ideas!

TUNA CAKES

  • 4 x 170g cans of flaked tuna, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup quinoa flakes (or you can susbstitute gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • finely chopped vegetables of your choice *optional (I like to add red peppers & celery)
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Combine the tuna, eggs, quinoa, vegetables, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Feel free to make it your own here..add lemon zest, parmesan cheese, chives, whatever you like.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Divide the mixture and shape into 8-10 cakes (depending on your size preference).

Gluten-free tuna cake patties, Chef at Heart

Gluten-free tuna cake patties, Chef at Heart

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the cakes in batches, approx. 3-5 minutes per side, or until browned and heated through. Serve.

You can also cool the browned cakes on a rack, wrap individually with plastic wrap, and freeze. Thaw them overnight in the fridge and reheat in a skillet.

Note: I tend to just lightly brown mine knowing I will freeze and reheat them again later in order to avoid overcooking the cakes. If you are cooking them to serve immediately, you should brown them as needed, ensuring they are heated and cooked through.

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

Gluten-free Tuna Cakes, Chef at Heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Breakfast Review (gluten-free)

If you’re like me, you typically eat the same four or five breakfast meals over and over: toast, eggs, cereal, and oatmeal. Well, when I’m away on vacation, the one thing I allow myself to indulge in is breakfast. And indulge I do.

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World in April I could not get enough of their breakfast potatoes. Whether it was in a cheesy casserole, or baked muffin-style (I’ll write about those another day), I loved them. And all of them gluten-free.

My absolute favourite breakfast potato dish though was at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at the Norway pavilion in Epcot. This was our first time dining at Akershus and we chose to go for the Princess Storybook character experience at breakfast.

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Akershus is a unique dining experience in that it’s both a buffet and a family-style meal. They have an extensive buffet set up with assorted meats and cheeses, pastries, cereals, bagels and more. On top of that, a family-style platter is delivered to your table complete with eggs, sausage, bacon, and breakfast potatoes. And as if that isn’t enough, there are gluten-free waffles, muffins, and hash browns available to order.

Thankfully, there is an allergy-friendly menu to walk you through all the items and as always, you have the option of talking directly to the chef if you would prefer or if you have questions.

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While everything on the breakfast platter was safe for me to eat, I also ordered the gluten-free waffles. Much to my surprise though, these were not the usual Mickey-shaped gluten-free waffles that I was used to at Walt Disney World and they certainly weren’t as tasty.

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They were cold and tasteless…oh, and they came alone on the plate. Unlike at other Disney restaurants, the waffles did not come with their own little pitcher of maple syrup. I’m not sure why they were different but after a couple bites, I opted to pass.

Then I discovered the potatoes. Incredible! Creamy and hearty, topped with cheese, I could not stop eating them.

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Definitely one of the better potato dishes on property!

Once back at home, and after returning to my regular breakfast routine, I could not stop thinking about the creamy goodness I’d enjoyed. I decided to try to duplicate the potatoes at home. Thankfully, having spent a number of vacations at Walt Disney World, I had collected a few Disney cookbooks over time, so I turned to those.

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Sure enough, one of them contained my beloved Cheddar Breakfast Potatoes recipe.

I must admit they turned out quite well but were not exactly the same.

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Maybe it was the illusion of eating them in a castle that was missing, or the absence of princesses parading around my kitchen table, I’m not sure. But I do know that every last bite of them was loved both by myself and the rest of my family. Even without the princesses.


Grilled Pizza

It’s amazing what a difference a grill makes when it comes to pizza. And it’s the perfect summertime food: it’s easy, it’s fast, and you keep the heat outside where it belongs!

I’ve BBQ’d pizza for clients in the past, and it’s always met with shocked looks at first as I throw the dough on the grill, but inevitably that’s followed by ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as everyone takes that first bite. It’s a whole different (and delicious) flavour.

When I started to eat gluten-free, I thought my grilled pizza days were over. Sure, I could use the frozen pre-formed crusts in the freezer section at the grocery store, but it wasn’t the same. But then I found a gluten-free dough that worked. I could actually shape it the way I wanted and put it straight on the grill like ‘real’ pizza dough. It was well worth the wait, and now I can’t get enough!

While the whole process is quite easy, the key to success here is to have all of your toppings ready to go beside the grill before you start.

You will need:

  • Pizza dough
  • Toppings of choice: sauce, cheeses, meats, vegetables.. whatever you like
  • Tongs and a large spatula
  • Baking sheet
  • Olive oil and a brush

The first step is to make or thaw your dough. If you’re using a frozen dough, you will need to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or while you’re at work that day.

While the dough is resting, pull out and prepare all your toppings. Grate your cheese and slice whatever meats or vegetables you want to use. Preheat your BBQ to med-high heat. You need to cook the dough over indirect heat so only turn on one side of your burners.

When you’re ready, roll out and shape your dough.

GF pizza dough
GF pizza dough

With the gluten-free dough, I find this easiest to do on a sheet of parchment dusted with gluten-free flour so you can then transfer the parchment to a cookie sheet to carry outside to your grill.

When the grill is preheated and you have your toppings ready to go, brush the top of the dough with some olive oil. Gently lift the dough and place oil side down onto the grill. It will only take a minute or two to brown so don’t walk away. Once the dough is lightly charred, gently turn the dough over using your tongs and/or spatula. Arrange all your toppings on the charred side and close the lid.

pizza2

This is the hard part… wait 5 minutes. Open the lid and check your crust. When it’s lightly charred and your cheese has melted, you’re good to go!

gf grilled pizza

Gluten-free grilled pizza

Gently remove the pizza from the grill, slice and enjoy!