Archive | May 2014

I Love That Maple Bacon Flavour

Name two naturally gluten-free foods without even thinking about it (if you say fruits and veggies I’m going to just stop writing right now). If you read the tile of this blog, and you know anything about me, the actual right answer is maple bacon. That’s right maple bacon, two naturally gluten-free things that humanity decided to put together to create a flavour that could almost rival bacon ranch (almost).

I WANT EVERYTHING TO BE MAPLE BACON.

I want there to be an alternative maple bacon flavour to every food. I want my soap to smell like maple bacon. Old Spice needs to get on that super quick (I am going to e-mail them and tell them I want that scent).

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We all know that the pig is the magical animal that gives us the gracious cut known as bacon. And we know that the majestic maple tree gives us the life blood of all canadians, maple syrup. So it is only natural that we, as a collective of smart mother fuckers puts these two flavours together. It’s a party in your mouth. It’s sex on the beach, no, it’s sex in a forest. Maple bacon is the leader of all flavours. If you don’t believe/trust me, you’re reading the wrong blog.

If I’m wrong about this, then do a quick google search: jams, doughnuts, lollipops, even booze all can now be purchased in maple bacon flavour. Bacon itself is such a highly popular food product that it’s imitated across the board. Why we see vegetarian bacon, turkey bacon, Beggin’ Strips. Why would companies produce imitation bacon? Because as a people, we crave it.

Is this gluten-free? Because I need this.

Is this gluten-free? Because I need this.

It’s probably not hard to believe that Lays Smoky Bacon is my favourite chip, and as of this writing I haven’t got my hands on any Kettle Brand Maple Bacon potato chips. But rest assured, when I get my greedy fingers on them I will review the shit out of them.

Its not hard to believe why Epic Meal Time uses bacon in all it’s cooking. It’s bacon. They only lack the maple.

It’s not hard to believe that I created a shot called The Gold Medal which is maple syrup and tequila mixed together. Because, why not?

The flavour combination of maple and bacon is the smartest idea ever to come out of a kitchen. I think somewhere down the line a Canadian got the smarts to put this all together. It makes perfect sense. Alone in the backwoods of Ontario, surrounded by maple trees and tending to pigs. It’s inevitable.

Anything bacon is great.

Anything maple is great.

Except Maple Walnut ice cream, you can keep that to yourself.

Gluten-Free Options at Casino Rama

When you think of a casino, I bet the last thing you think of is food. I usually think of all the blinking lights that grab my attention and then take away all my money (AKA slot machine AKA money robots). So, when my mother told me that Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario had gluten-free option at their buffet I had to find out for myself.

I was able to go and visit Casino Rama, along with my photographer from Mad Hatter Media (check them out HERE) and meet with various staff to talk about their gluten-free options, and not once was I disappointed. I have never been more surprised with a company than I was that day.

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Hi, I’m at Casino Rama. Let’s pose for a picture.

Located an hour north of Toronto, Casino Rama has built itself quite a reputation for upscale gambling, shows and meals. I’ve been there before, but never like this. Never to meet with top Chef James to discuss the gluten-free food options available to me as a diagnosed Celiac, and what a slew of options there are. Across five internal restaurants you can get your mitts on all kinds of grub. How about a GF kaiser roll? Yeah, they can get that for you. Aside from the regular fresh veggies and fruit that they serve that is naturally gluten free, they even have a gluten-free sausage, and that’s epic.

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I had the opportunity to talk with Chef James about what I could eat as a Celiac at the buffet, and the list is a lot larger than what you think. He took me along the whole row of food and pointed out what was GF behind the scenes, what was GF when it sits at the buffet hot tables, and what has a higher degree of cross contamination. If you can go to a buffet and eat the roast beef without worry, you’ve got a winner, and Casino Rama has hit a home run in the gluten-free department.

Up to 8000 people come into the casino on a daily basis and if you do the math (knowing that 1 out of 133 people are diagnosed with Celiac), then you know that at least 60 of those people have Celiac and those people are going to want to be able to eat and not worry. It’s a small number on the grand scale of things, a huge building and company like Casino Rama doesn’t have to worry about us Celiacs, but they do, and that’s what makes them special.

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I’ve said before that Disney World caters to you as a Celiac. They go out of their way to treat you like an individual and make YOUR food requests the most important. Casino Rama does this and it blows my mind. Director of Public Relations for Casino Rama; Jenna Hunter emphasized that they take pride in their customer service and from what I witnessed, she wasn’t blowing smoke up my ass. This is an establishment that tends to you as a person, not a number. It’s classic Canadian hospitality rolled into a casino, and I dig that (plus they have blink light money robots and I like that too).

They’ve come a long way in the last 18 months for providing gluten-free items. The different concerts at the Entertainment Centre bringing in different people with different dietary requests. The diagnosed people with all their food intolerance’s and allergies, that includes us Celiacateers. Casino Rama is a giant uppercut of awesome when it comes to catering to us diagnosed Celiacs.

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Casino Rama is a very green company and have donated time for Habitat for Humanity, and always try to buy fresh produce from Ontario. They’re an amazing business to learn about and to visit, and I recommend you do all of the above. I doubt you’ll be disappointed (unless you lose your money in the casino, if that’s the case, they win).

A few of my favourite points:

1) They utilize the term “relaxed elegance” for themselves

2) They pickle their own beets

3) They take pride in customer service

4) They gave me free pizza

You might think that free pizza is a way to sway me to say something positive about their company, you’re wrong. Go and visit for yourself and ask all the same questions I asked. Actually, just ask any culinary personel about gluten-free and you won’t have to ask questions, because every one authorized to walk you through the buffet and tell you about what is gluten-free will be thorough enough that you won’t have to ask anything. Just go and see that my positive attitude towards Casino Rama is genuine and very true.

The gluten-free pizza.

It’s good.

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Thanks to Casino Rama and Jenna Hunter for a great interview and tour, and taking the time to show that a blogger is just as important as a well known magazine or a television station.

Thanks to Mad Hatter Media for the great photography.

Thanks to the Michael Jackson slot machine that took my money.

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Make sure to visit Mad Hatter Media

 

I Review Gluten-Free Hot Dog Buns

There are a lot of hot dog buns out there in the gluten-free market place, almost all of them are good. Celiac Disease has come a long way in the years since I was diagnosed in 2008 and while there is a good chance the gluten-free fad will die out, the gluten-free food needs to stick around to help and support us 1 in 133 people diagnosed with an incurable disease.

Now that that is out of the way HOT DOG BUNS.

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When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease gluten-free hot dog buns were hard to come by, and even then, when you found them then were always freezer burned in that particular section of the grocery store, and the worst part is; they tasted horrible. I always just ended up eating the dogs without a bun. Dipping it in ketchup or mustard like an idiot. That is when you can spot a Celiac at a BBQ, the dummy dipping his hot dogs.

O’Doughs (click HERE for their site) has always been one of my favourite GF breads, and they make a real boss cake too. So when I was just recently able to get my hands on their gluten-free hot dogs buns, I jumped at the chance. I took into account that I actually hadn’t had a hot dog bun in probably three years. Find the O’Doughs buns were a score since I already like two other products of theirs.

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You have to remember that with any gluten-free bread product you never really know what to expect; holes, mis-cut slices, mould? I dunno, O’Doughs has always been consistent with their products, so when I opened the packages and pulled out a bun; it was flat. Not due to shipping or squishing, its made flat. Okay I get it, so how do I get a dog in there? Well, it’s a big bun which is a plus, so you have to put two hot dogs in the bun. You have to use two to get more bang for your buck.

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Mustard. Just mustard

So are they worth it? If you need gluten-free hot dogs buns for a family BBQ, yes the O’Doughs buns are worth it. Do they taste good? I found them dry. They had an almost corn bread like taste/texture to them which was good, but they were dry, and I’m glad I put in two hot dogs in the bun because if I had to each extra dog-less portions of the gluten-free hot dog bun, I would have just thrown it out. Those uneaten pieces would have sat on my plate alone like those girls at the 50s high school dance in Grease.

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Always use gluten-free hot dogs.

Alone at the Natural Foods Store

I’ve never been to a Whole Foods Market. I know they exist. I know they are relatively close to me (relatively as in within and hours drive), and I know they’re popular with the gluten-free and Celiac crowd due to their amounts of great GF food. My local grocery store currently provides just what I need when it comes to everyday gluten-free items, but on those special occasions when I crave something different I have to travel to the closest natural foods store Nature’s Emporium.

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I assume the idea, food and interior is much like a Whole Food, and Nature’s Emporium gives off a vibe that never sat right with me. Yes, if I want a pie baked by a local vendor, Nature’s Emporium is right there to hook me up with my GF needs. They have aisles of all kinds of natural hygiene products and organic meats, it’s a natural foods store, I think you get the idea.

Aside from the over priced food set within this store I think I was ignorant to the people who went there. The patrons always seemed like high society douchebags wandering the aisles with ideas of fresh chia seed pie crust. I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac since 2008 and have been to Nature’s Emporium less than 25 times at least, but I never really liked the atmosphere there. I felt out of place.

I once talked about judging people on how they looked and whether or not you could pick out a person who was gluten-free or not based on their personal style (you can read that HERE), I found myself doing just that when I went to Nature’s Emporium and comparing myself to the others around me. I have a beard, wear a John Deere hat and talk loud. No one there looked like me. It’s why I always felt judged and out of place there. I didn’t look like a ‘typical’ person who had to be in this natural foods store, but there are times I need to be there. The people walking around me, buying hot lunches and picking up organic mango juice might not have been judging me, or maybe just looking at me the same way I was them ‘why are they here?’.

I wanted to test myself and see if I still felt the same and visited Nature’s Emporium in the last week (it’s been close to a year since I last visited). I wanted to see if I still felt like an outsider to a world where I deserved to be because I have to be gluten-free and I need to be gluten-free to be healthy. I bought a terrible tasting gluten-free blueberry pie, a pack of hot dog buns (and another pack of hot dog buns) and some coconut chocolate bar thing. None of these purchases I was happy with, but what I did find, was that I went it to the store with more of an open mind. I didn’t secretly judge the people buying free range chicken and vegan mozzarella sticks because they’re just like me, wether or not they need to be gluten-free for a medical reason like Celiac or NCGS, they still made a choice to eat this way.

I was guilty of doing what I thought was wrong, I’m only human, and I still work on it everyday. Honest is best when you admit the positive and negative. I was wrong to judge the people at the Nature’s Emporium, wether they see it is a bad thing I have done it or a good thing I found the error of my ways is irrelevant. I just know everyone is there for one reason or another, and I got no problems with that, not anymore.

I’ll go back to Nature’s Emporium, I really want to try some of the gluten-free hot food, I don’t know why I haven’t?

Gluten-Free Mama Giveaway Winner

Who knew that I’d be judging a poetry contest? I guess I did since it was my idea.

Before you read on what’s happening here, and want to take a quick journey to Gluten-Free Mama (the people supporting this giveaway, click HERE for them) make sure to check out THIS post to see why I’m about to declare the winner in in the Gluten-Free Mama Giveaway in honour of Celiac Awareness Month.

I’m happy that people decided to actually write poems to win a gift basket, it’s not often that anyone can do it or even attempt to do it. As a blogger I am supposed to be unbiased in the winners of a giveaway (that’s why you’ll see other blogger sites use name generators or raffle generators to choose winners of these sorts of things), sometimes I just want to read a poem.

Oh the winning entry? It’s written by Randi Lee Dach

We love gluten free for us and our little boy,
sometimes the food is better than a toy.
Gluten free Brownies delish,
I think I need more in our dish.
Everything is great with gluten free soup,
and now our son can once again poop ­čśë

I told you all that I would explain why I chose the winner, well, I like the fact that it’s a family changing their eating ways to accommodate a child. When families do that it shows commitment and love, much love (it’s something I secretly hope everyone in my house would do for me even though at 33 I’m totally capable of taking care of my own gluten-free needs) and poop. Who doesn’t love when someone says poop? It kills me.

Congratulations Randi. Enjoy the great Gluten-Free Mama gift basket provided by Gluten-Free Mama.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Covered Pretzels

As a Celiac who has to eat 100% gluten-free you know that those special treats are hard to come by, and by special treats I mean candy bars and potato chips and all the little things we can indulge on. But thanks to Celiac Disease a lot of our past cravings have to take a back seat to healthier options like carrots or chia seeds (I don’t have a problem with any health food as a snack alternative, but that’s not what I’m here for today).

The two greatest words in the world are GLUTEN-FREE and when you slap those two words on chocolate covered pretzels you’ve probably got the most amazing this ever. As a Celiacateer finding chocolate covered pretzels is actually a lot tougher than you think. A local baker or an independent grocer might be able to make them, and at a premium price (add in the money making words like gluten-free, then you’ll be paying extra on top of extra). The accessibility of Glutino┬áchocolate covered pretzels is pretty awesome, they’re right there in the GF aisle at my local grocer and while they pack a hefty price, they are excellent. Glutino makes the best, THE BEST chocolate covered gluten-free pretzels.

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I annihilated this bag while watching The Matrix

You can fight me on this all you want. I’m not backing down. To be honest, I’m not ever sure if there is another brand of GF choco pretz (I gotta admit I’ve said chocolate covered pretzel a lot in this blog, and from the looks of it, I’m going to be saying it a whole whack more), because Glutino is just a dominant force for pretzels, how could there be another brand (in retrospect, I never looked for another brand)

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This is the next day, and I’m not going to feel bad admitting that I bought another bag and I will probably eat the whole damn thing while watching Robocop

Usually we can always remember what our favourite food is and where we had the best part of our favourite food. Like the name of the restaurant where we had the greatest burger or the first bite of strawberry shortcake that melted in your mouth. I remember when I had the greatest chocolate covered pretzels, it was my honeymoon in 2005, Disney World. They made these chocolate covered pretzels and sold them at the Goofy Candy Shop, damn they were good. But that dream is gone, and is now replaced with weekly injections of Glutino gluten-free chocolate covered pretzels.

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I try to cram as much as I can into my mouth then take pictures then enjoy

While I have you here, make sure to click on the CONTACT┬áME section of my site to see fun ways to get a hold of me or peek into my social life with all the social apps and sites I use. I’d like to think I lead a pretty awesome life, that and I have Celiac, which is awesome.

Do You Look Gluten-Free?

We’ve always been told to never judge a book by it’s cover, so look in the mirror. Do you look gluten-free?

You could say that there is a stereotype when it comes to who people are: hippy, computer tech, biker even people who frequent Lilith Fair. so is there a type of person who eats gluten-free? Yes we can make all kinds of assumptions, and let’s face it, making assumptions is terrible. Just because someone has a sleeve tattoo doesn’t automatically make them bad people. Look at yourself, what are you wearing? Could a person look at you and know you eat gluten-free?

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Would you think this guy was gluten-free? It’s me. And yes I’m gluten-free.

When I go to a gluten-free expo and look around, not one person really has the same style. There are styles that fall in the same lines. Recently I was looking around at a GF show and no one had the same shirt (except for my mom and sister who both wore matching ‘gluten-free like a boss’ tee’s). If it was just me walking through a mall, I could never pinpoint someone who was gluten-free.

Do you dress in a way to let people know you eat gluten-free?

Do you own an article of clothing that mentions gluten anywhere on it? Perhaps you bought a shirt to support a blogger or a GF company? Do you wear it out with the intention to let people know about your eating habits? I do. It’s our way of standing out like teenagers who support Twilight or Hanson. Our gluten-free bloggers are our rockstars. Our GF companies are our sponsors. So wear your gluten-free shirts proud and when someone asks, let them know why you eat gluten-free (the monkey wrench in that whole thing is the people who avoid gluten because someone they knew told them to stop eating gluten and start getting on the fad diet bus). Advocating the real reasons to go gluten-free are just as important as looking the part.

Stereotyping is bad. Everyone is different, and everyone is unique. So why attempt to box in the look of a gluten-free individual? Because I am one. I have Celiac. I’m 100% gluten-free so do I look gluten-free? I would say no. That’s what makes each person unique. I’m six feet tall, I have a beard, I’m very much a man, and I think if you didn’t know me the last thing you’d expect is that I eat gluten-free. That and I have been to an ‘Nsync concert and enjoyed it very much.

Never judge a book by it’s cover. You never know what’s inside.

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