I haven’t done a restaurant review in quite some time but I have been to a few as of late! Most recently I ate with some friends at Tavola. It’s a quaint little restaurant located on Water Street in St. John’s. Previously, I had heard […]
Wow, 2017 is here already! Where did the last year go?! I think a lot of people are happy to see 2016 in the rear view mirror. So say so long and get on with the plan for this fresh New Year! A lot of people tend to base their resolutions on healthy eating and weight loss. There are so many diets out there that promise massive weight loss and quick results…but are they healthy? Are they effective? Do they last long term? One of the answers to these questions is yes, these diets are effective but long term they aid in creating bad to worse eating habits and the effects are usually short lived. So…let’s set you up for a win, a triple win. You want a plan that is healthy, effective and creates long term habits to maintain your healthy new lifestyle. The most important thing you want to do is find your motivation. Sometimes making changes are hard so you need to remember why you’re doing this. Is it to better your health, help you feel more energetic, improve your self-confidence, maybe it’s to keep up with your kids. It doesn’t matter. Just remember you set out on this path for a reason, so stay focused on the end goal…a long healthy life!
- Make a plan: Part of being successful is having a plan. It’s hard to stay focused when you aren’t organized with all of the right tools for success. Set aside an hour each week…for most people it’s a Saturday or Sunday afternoon but it could be a Tuesday night, whenever is convenient for you! Make a meal plan for the week and then write up your grocery list to go along with that plan. That way you have all the necessary ingredients for all the food you need and you’re not scrambling during the week to come up with ideas only to realize you don’t have all the ingredients and you end up making 2-3 extra trips to the store. Moral of the story…less time thinking and running around means more time preparing and less chances that you will end up eating take out or something less healthy (not that take out is bad but it should only be a once a week kind of option). Involve the family in the planning too! If everyone gets a say in which meals are prepared than you double your chances of success!
- Clean out your cupboards: Do a little spring cleaning early! Clear out all the chocolate, candies, chips and cookies from Christmas (wow…apparently all the delicious treat foods start with ‘C’!) and make a space for all of your healthy ingredients. Keep your absolute favorites and tuck them away. Make sure you clear out a space for healthy go to snacks which I will get to later. Maybe a shelf in your cupboard or a crisper in your fridge.
- Start small. Making too many big changes at once can be intimidating. When making your plan, keep some of your regular dishes the same, make sure you include your favorite foods! Maybe your plan includes trying 1 new recipe a week. Maybe it includes trying 1 new fruit or veggie a week. Remember every change no matter how small or large makes an impact and sets you in the right direction.
- Create your own healthy snacks on the run. Wash, cut and organize fresh fruits and veggies so they are readily available for snacking. Get out a ¼ cup measure and measure out any kind of nuts you like (unsalted) or make your own granola bars (http://www.newfoundbalance.com/recipes/healthy-snacks/chocolate-peanut-butter-granola-bites/). Make sure you have zip lock baggies or lots of tuperware containers handy. Again, it’s all about setting yourself up for a win. If you set aside an hour for prep every week then when you are pressed for time you will have healthy food to grab on the run!
- Don’t skip breakfast! Feeling tired around 11 or 2 is about more than lack of caffeine or sleep. Food is fuel and after all night fasting your body needs energy first thing in the morning. Try a high fibre option like oatmeal because it will keep you full longer and spreads out your energy. Fibre also aides in weight loss and can keep blood sugar and cholesterol stable. Try this delicious recipe here.
Hopefully these 5 tips will start you on your way! AND, remember when I mentioned keeping your favorite treats? Enjoy those too, set aside a day of the week where you sit down and enjoy your treats with the family. You can’t maintain your new healthy life without being able to enjoy your favorite snacks! Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions. Reading this article is definitely the first step!
Adrianna Smallwood, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert
The holidays are coming! It’s almost December and I bet most people are struggling between making a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier in some capacity and tallying up the calories of all the food they will eat over Christmas. I myself have made quite […]
Fruits and vegetables are full of tons of nutrients! Here in Newfoundland we have some of the lowest rates of fruit and vegetable intake and for sure a lot of different options aren’t readily available on this wonderful island we call a rock…BUT there are […]
My next restaurant review brings to light a very important topic…Health Inspectors overstepping their duties and working outside of their scope of practice and knowledge base.
I recently had lunch at Sushi Nami on George Street. I love it there and they actually were part of our Gluten Free Fair in June for our National Celiac Conference. They made all the sushi fresh on the spot and they have a wonderful gluten free menu and even bring in gluten free soy sauce!
I was super excited to go out for lunch this day with my friend and luckily the Manager served us so I was prepared to ask tons of questions. We started with the plain, salted edamame. Always a favorite. They also offer spicy edamame but it has gluten so stay with the plain folks! I then ordered the Veggie Dragon Roll. The gluten containing version of this actually has tempura sweet potato inside so I was very curious about how they cooked the sweet potato without the gluten. So I asked the Manager. She informed me that since she was promoting gluten free and was part of the gluten free food fair she wanted to be absolutely certain that none of her customers were harmed with cross contamination. So she had called in the Health Inspector to look at her kitchen. This Health Inspector proceeded to tell her that she could use the same deep fryer to deep fry gluten free foods because the deep fryer KILLLED gluten.
So I almost fell off my chair at this point because a.) Gluten is NOT a germ or bacteria that can be killed b.) Gluten is a protein and thus it takes EXTREMELY high temperatures to denature or break it down and even then the pieces of gluten can still cause a reaction and c.) That is not something a Health Inspector SHOULD be telling people since it is clearly not something they know about or learn about in their program. This is actually the second time I have heard of this happening. I have a Chef friend whose Health Inspector also told him that gluten will be killed in the deep fryer. Celiac Disease leads to so many complications when left untreated. One of the biggest of which is Lymphoma. Consuming gluten and damaging our insides leads to these further complications. A Health Inspector should know when something is in their scope and when to say, I don’t know about that and I’m not certain if I can give you information so let me put you in contact with someone who can. That is how you become good at your job. Not just knowing about things. But also knowing when you don’t know and stepping back. Especially when a person’s well being is on the line!
The manager took this in stride and I explained to her that the deep fryer temperature was not high enough to break down the gluten and make it safe for someone with Celiac to consume (or even someone with a wheat allergy). She was extremely receptive and told me from now on that when a customer orders gluten free, the parts that were supposed to be deep fried would now be grilled. I ate my Sushi Roll and it was amazingly delicious and oh so gluten free. I never got sick and I hopefully my experience will change the next customers experience there as well!
Moral of the story: Health Inspectors need to stay within their scope of practice. The Celiac Association has a Gluten Certification Program and Professionals who know about cross contamination come into restaurants and provide training to employees and insure that the premises is gluten free. A Health Inspector might know about germs and such but clearly they have no idea about allergies or Health Conditions.
Happy gluten free eating at Sushi Nami everyone! The food is amazing and the manager is super diligent! I give it two thumbs up!
If you want to read a little more info about deep frying and cross contamination check out this blog by a fellow Dietitian
The Newfie Celiac Dietitian!
Beware of the over confident Server! I had the…pleasure… of eating at the Yellow Belly recently with my family. The last couple of times I went there it was for drinks. On a previous visit I had been told that their Cider was in fact […]
Here in St. John’s our Restaurant options are starting to expand. Every day I hear about a brand new Restaurant. Now for me…the prospect of a new restaurant isn’t as exciting as it used to be. 5 years ago I got the worst and best […]
Hey out there fellow Celiacs…or gluten intolerant readers as well! I have been baking gluten free for about 5 years now and I have had many successes…and failures…with my baking! I know it can be a struggle to find the perfect gluten free product that even closely measures up to the real thing and a lot of the commercially available products are super high in fat and sugar to try and replace those lovely textures that gluten provides…chewy, fluffy, soft, flaky…we miss those textures right?!
So here is my fool proof method for muffins, cookies and granola bars (I haven’t quite ventured in to those baking experiments that require yeast and the one time I did it was a complete flop…no pun intended ;). So stay tuned for future ideas!).
First there are a few things I keep in mind when experimenting with my gluten free recipes:
- Most gluten free recipes are low in fibre because of the types of grains they use in their products. I get around this by using Sorghum flour in my baking. It’s a higher fibre option. Also I replace flour in recipes with some ground flaxseed. I do this at a 4:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, I add 1 ½ cups of flour and ½ cup ground flaxseed instead.
- Folate deficiency can also be an issue in those diagnosed with celiac. Folate is a B vitamin found in many different sources including leafy greens but it is also in ground flax so this little ingredient has multiple benefits.
- Calcium and iron deficiencies can also be an issue in Celiac disease but once you start eating gluten free your absorption of these should increase as your intestine heals. When I can I add Chia seeds to my recipes as well. These little seeds are high in fibre, calcium and iron.
- FAT! The 3 letter dirty word. Before I was gluten free I ALWAYS replaced the fat in my recipes with apple sauce and I was still left with a delicious and moist end product. STOP! You can’t do this with a gluten free product unfortunately. Leaving out the fat makes the end product crumbly whether it’s a cookie, cake or a muffin. A little fat doesn’t hurt you and the fibre boost you get with the other ingredients will help combat the extra fat!
- Flour has different properties and not 1 gluten free flour will provide all the properties of regular gluten containing flour so it’s always best to use more than 1 flour. I usually use half rice flour and half sorghum flour. I know a lot of gluten free recipes call for 3 and 4 but this can get pricey and a little annoying. This ratio always works for me so I tend to use it the most!
- I rarely use salt…I don’t even own it and there is plenty in Xanthan Gum, Baking soda and Baking Powder I feel to make up for that.
- Usually the amount of sugar in ANY recipe can be cut in half!
- Use Xanthan gum….this is our gluten replacer to give us those textures we miss out on when we hold the gluten. The Xanthan gum package usually lists on the back how much you should use based on each cup of flour and if you are making cookies, muffins, cake, ect.
So…let’s pick a regular ol’ recipe off Pinterest and change it to gluten free! Since its berry season I am going to go with a Blueberry Muffin! I simply just typed blueberry muffins in Pinterest and grabbed the first one that came up.
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for muffin tops
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) neutral flavored oil; canola, vegetable and grape seed are great
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup (80 ml – 120 ml) milk; dairy and non-dairy both work
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries;see note below about frozen berries (about 1 cup)
Alright….this recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of flour. How does this balance out using my above techniques? Firstly we are going to replace some of the flour with ground flax. In this case we will use ¼ cup of ground flax so we are left with 1 ¼ cup of flour, half of which will be rice flour and the other half which will be sorghum flour. So you can use ½ + 1/8 of a cup of each for this recipe.
Next, we need to cut down on the sugar content. We can use 1/3 in this recipe if you want to sprinkle the extra on top like it suggests.
Leave out the salt!
Leave the baking powder (and/or baking soda, depending on the recipe), oil/butter, milk, vanilla extract and frozen berries the same. Make sure you are using a PURE vanilla extract and not an artificial one as most flavorings have gluten in them.
Lastly, add your Xanthan Gum. On the package it states that when making muffins you should add ¾ tsp of xanthan gum per 1 cup of flour. So in this case we are using 1 ½ cups of flour so we will use 1 1/8 tsp of Xanthan gum.
Voila, you made a gluten free recipe out of a regular ol’ recipe by holding the gluten. You also managed to create a lower sugar and higher fibre end product. So…gasp…a HEALTHY gluten free recipe!
Hope you enjoyed! Good luck with your experimenting!
Adrianna Smallwood, RD
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert