Salad in a Jar – Go Big or Go Home

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not so good at the whole “half-ass” thing. I tend to throw my everything into whatever I’m doing and even though it might bomb heavily, I’m going to go for it.

And such went the whole Salad in a Jar experiment.

You see, I’m heading down to Calgary for a weekend of teacher training – prenatal training to be specific. I’m staying with a friend of mine and she’s amazing, but I didn’t want to subject her to my food stuff. I know she’ll provide me with wonderfully nutritious food but I’m going to have to pack lunches (and in some case suppers) and I didn’t want her to have to try to feed me for 7 meals. So I started looking. And then it’s like this giant lightbulb went off. Salad in a jar!

I made 9 jars. There are 6 different types of salad. And I’m going to tell you what I put in all of them.

First of all, making salad in a jar isn’t for the faint of heart. This is what my kitchen looked like partway through the process.

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Now granted, I have an extremely small kitchen. But still.

However, this was the final result:

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My little guy was all about helping. And once I started cutting fruit he was SUPER into it.

So without further ado, here are some recipes. And know a few things: One- I love red cabbage and really dislike traditional lettuce. Two – I wanted these to be vegan if I could. Three – You can change them up using your favourite stuff!

Salad dressing base used for Taco and Curry:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar of some kind (I used red wine vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt
dash of lemon juice

This dressing made enough for 4-5 jars. I split it up fairly evenly.

Taco – I made one using quinoa, one using traditional salad ingredients.
Add 1 tsp of taco seasoning (I used epicure) and stir it up.

Quinoa version:
Add 1/2 cup of quinoa.
Layer in the following order: 1/4 cup of chickpeas, Corn, Red Tomatoes (not cut)

Salad version:
Layer in the following order: Cucumber, Corn, Red Tomatoes (not cut), Red onion, celery, radish, Top with red cabbage

Curry – I made one using quinoa, one as salad
Add 1 tsp of curry powder and stir it up.

Quinoa Version:
Add 1/2 cup of quinoa.
Layer in the following order: Snap peas, Radish, red onion, celery, 2 tbsp. raisins, sesame seeds

Salad version:
Layer: Shredded carrot, zucchini, Red onion, radish, Cabbage

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Avocado:
I used the salad dressing found here: Lemon Avocado Salad Dressing

I split the dressing between 2 jars.

Quinoa Version: 1/2 cup quinoa, Green snap peas, Red Onion, Radish, Celery, Red tomatoes (not cut), Shredded carrot

Salad version: Chick peas and lentils (totalling 1/3 cup), Shredded carrot, zucchini, Red cabbage

Waldorf Salad: I used the basics of the salad that can be found at Produce by Amy

I used a similar dressing but this is my only non-vegan option as I used Hellman’s Mayonnaise. This is my only non nut-free salad as well.

Dressing: 2 tbsp. mayonnaise, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. avocado oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Place on bottom of jar.

Layer: Shredded carrot, Red cabbage, Red onion, Green Apple, 2 tbsp. almonds, 2 tbsp. pomegranate.

Lentil Salad:
Layer: Dressing (2 tbsp. avocado oil, 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar, splash of lemon juice, 2 tsp dill), 1/2 cup lentils, Shredded carrots, red tomatoes (not cut), cucumber

And finally, I wanted something to snack on during the long days of training so I made a simple fruit jar by layering pomegranate seeds, mango, blueberries, green apple and strawberries.

And voila. Now I have to decide which 4 to bring with me..

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Starting at the Top left going clockwise: Quinoa Curry, Quinoa Taco, Quinoa Avocado, Waldorf, Lentil, Salad Avocado, Salad Taco, Fruit, Salad Curry

Bon apetit!

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Meal Planning 101

Before I get to Part 2 in the Away From Home series, I thought I’d interject with some meal planning. Not only was it requested by a number of different people, but there are also some new to Gluten-Free living people out there that are feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Welcome to Meal Planning 101!

You’re newly diagnosed, or you’re wanting to branch out into cooking more, or you’re tired of the same old same old. How do you manage? Where do you start? And where do you look at the grocery store?

First of all, take a deep breath. Take a step back away from it all and then take one little baby step forward. That’s what going gluten free is about. Baby steps. Oh sure, you have to take one giant leap (diving face forward tripping over a branch) to go gluten free, but meal prep is smaller little baby steps to get to where you want to go.

1. Find some good, reliable, do-able recipes. Now that we’ve been GF for more than three years, I don’t find that many recipes daunting. But I still have some go-to sources.
Rubelle’s Moon is one of my fave twitter girls to follow – she’s always cooking up something great.
Wendy from Celiacs in the House is all about meal planning and plans her weeks out ahead. She cooks really great stuff and was a huge inspiration to me to start cooking more GF stuff that tasted good.
Jules from Jules Gluten Free has great recipes that are easy, remind me of truly good baking, and she’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever encountered. That should get you started 🙂

There’s some other amazing blogs out there like Gluten Free Girl, and Gluten Free Goddess (and if you have others, please leave it in the comments!) but I’d be here all day just listing them.

When you find good recipes, you have a source to start from. Less daunting, and easier to plan meals from.

2. Make a list of 5 things you’d cook this week.
Why five? Well, when we cooked all 7 days, we ended up wasting food. We still have little kids who don’t yet eat our fridge clean, and there are only so many leftovers I can eat. I’m also currently in a positive where I don’t have a microwave at work to heat things up. But, if you make 5 meals, that still allows for leftovers for lunches, an evening of “help yourself” and an evening of “get out of the house” eating out.

3. Plan the grocery list.
You can do so much of your planning at home. Seperate your list into sections: Produce, Meat, Dairy, Canned Goods, Pasta, other. This will allow you to consult your list and cross things off easier without having to scan the entire thing every time.

You can also download many different APPS on your smart phone to help your grocery list organization. Check ahead of time what ingredients you might need that might be questionable. For instance, if you need to pick up a sauce of some kind, look at home to see what sauces might be safe so that when you get to the store, you’re not overwhelmed with choices.

Many grocery stores now (Whole Foods in the states, Superstore in Canada) have entire aisles dedicated to gluten free foods. When in doubt, head for this aisle and regroup.

4. Stick to your plan!!
The biggest mistakes happen when you decide to wing it and just pop into the grocery store on the way home and forget to read labels.

When we were meal planning, we often added a 6th “optional” menu day that had things that could be carried over to the next week if necessary (for example, enchiladas – we could freeze the meat, and the rest of the ingredients we needed stayed fresh).

5. Plan your lunches.
Lunch is often the hardest part of the transition (it definitely was for me!). Pack leftovers into lunch sized tupperware so you can grab and go in the morning. On Sundays, cut things up for quick assembly (my mom is big into salads so every Sunday she cuts up all her veggies for the week so that each night it’s just a matter of tossing things in together).

When you’re making supper, think lunch. Making quinoa? Make more than you will need and while you’re waiting for supper to cook, cut up some fresh vegetables to throw into the quinoa after for an easy quinoa salad. (See a recipe below).

Never assume you can just run out for fast food or assemble something quickly in the morning – especially at the beginning. A hungry celiac is just not a pleasant person to work with 🙂

Step 6:
Pull out the ingredients, and get cooking!

I hope this has helped. If you need more help, or need any clarification, please drop me a line. I’m always here to answer questions!
You can also find me on twitter @mamaceliac

And now for a quick recipes supper/lunch recipes.
Quinoa Stir Fry Dinner + Quinoa Salad Lunch
Cook 2 cups of quinoa in either vegetable or chicken broth. The quinoa will double in amount, so split it in half once it’s done.
While the quinoa is cooking, cut up as many vegetables as you want – think brocoli, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, carrots, kales.
Put half in a frying pan to saute – add some garlic and olive oil for rich flavour.
The other half put in a LARGE salad bowl raw.
Once the vegetables are partially cooked, throw half the quinoa in and saute it. Let it simmer in a bit more broth (about 1/2 a cup) until all the broth is gone.
Optional Step: create a hole in the quinoa and add 2 eggs that have been whisked lightly. Once the egg starts to cook and harden, stir up your quinoa stir fry. The egg adds amazing texture and taste.
Turn off your stove and serve up!

For the lunch: add the other half the quinoa to the salad bowl with raw veggies.
Mix up:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp wine vinegar
the juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp dill
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Once well mixed pour on top of quinoa salad mix and stir well to blend.
Optional: add on craisins – yum!

Try it and let me know how it goes!

Silly silly blogs

This is the second time I’m blogging – the first time I had this long “I’m back” post going on and bam.. it wouldn’t save and then I lost it all – including the patience to re-write what I had written.

I’ve taken a break from everything other than my immediate family lately. I felt like I needed to settle down and pay attention to my kids for a while. They’re both missing me and I get that – I miss them too. So I’ve been awol.

I miss my menu plans too. The Husband did such a wonderful job while I was down ‘n’ out taking care of us but I need my menus back. I really hate sticking my head in the fridge at the end of the day and trying to figure out what we might have for dinner. So, we’ll be back to planning this week. Hopefully that will save the 7 trips to the grocery store, too.

Speaking of which, what is your absolute favourite, relatively easy dish? It cant’ have nuts or shellfish in it, but anything else is fair-game. I want to make some new stuff this coming week. I think I’m going to make Beef Strognoff for the first time, but we shall see if that sounds like something the fam might eat.

I’m almost recovered. I start physiotherapy on Monday which I’m looking forward to immensely. It’ll be nice to be able to get moving again. And slowly but surely, I’ve been able to lift The Girl now and again. The Boy is still too heavy as he’s upwards of 35 pounds which is over the 25 pound limit I have right now.

The Girl had her ear surgery too last week and has recovered wonderfully. It’s as if nothing ever happened (other than sometimes loud, unknown noises freak her out). We’ll find out on Thursday if the Boy needs surgery too (which we assume he does given his speech, breathing, swallowing and hearing problems.

All in a day’s life 🙂

Gluten Free Menu Swap

I allowed the husband a week off in our menu planning but our grocery bill suffered for it. So this week, I insisted that we reinstate the menu planning. We start our menus on a Saturday so I’m a bit late, but eh.

We have a fridge full of leftovers that need to be eaten but much other goodness should be consumed. It is FINALLY spring here and our backyard has only a few specks of snow left. Our front yard on the other hand faces north and so still has 2 feet pondering whether or not to leave for a few months or not. But, we bought both kids rubber boots this weekend and they have been essentially living outside so I hope this encourages the last of the snow to melt away.

Without further adieu, my menu.

Thai Food – Curry Beef and Sweet & Sour Chicken with noodles and coconut rice

Another meal of the Gluten Free Lasagna baked for us by a friend as a get well gift

Pasta (go figure!)

Leftovers (shocking!)

Polenta with moose meat, red peppers, onions and mozzarella cheese

Tacos – this is one of 2 meals that I can consume a ridiculous amount of food during. I think I had 4. They were perfect.

And I’m missing something.. I wonder where the husband put that list.

Wendy at Celiacs in the House is hosting this week!

It’s been a yummy week so far..

I really like food a lot more than I used to. I used to pretty much hate food to be honest. I ate it because I absolutely had to in order to stay alive but other than that, I didn’t see the point. Nothing tasted good to me, nor did it feel good afterwards. I can pinpoint one of my celiac flare-ups to my late teens. I also battled depression at the time, but I literally could not keep anything in my stomach. I dropped 20 pounds in a month and my weight dropped dangerously low. Looking back on that time makes it shocking to me that I actually LIKE food now. I don’t feel terrible after eating it and I can enjoy cooking it as well as eating it as a result. It’s a whole new way of life.

This week food has been yummy. Our pork tenderloin was fantastic on Sunday night. Monday’s Artichoke Pork was not the same as the chicken – both The Husband and I agreed that we liked the chicken better, but the pork was also incredibley good. Tonight we had a vegetarian friend over for dinner with her 2 year old. We made a lovely spaghetti dinner. I threw together an impromptu veggie sauce which turned out to be wonderful. I finely chopped (try Pampered Chef’s food chopper! It really makes it much easier to finely dice things) carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and roasted peppers, added some crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, lots of spices (sugar, paprika and cumin are wonderful in sauces), and tossed in some fresh spinach. YUM! It was perfect over our brown rice pasta.

Tomorrow night will be pizza night and Thursday night will hopefully be the moose meatloaf. our fridge is getting full but it should work out that leftovers are there for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Husband will start cooking again on Monday but I want to get us through the weekend without having to cook. Some friends have offered to bring food as well post-surgery so I think that will be a big help.

3 days and counting..

Gluten Free Menu Swap

It happened. The Boy turned 3. I’m not sure how three years have already gone by but they have. And, just like 3 years ago, this weekend was filled with a snowstorm. Oh how I love living in Canada sometimes.. this time we’re only supposed to get 20cm or so, but still. It’s nearly the end of March.

Anyway, this is my first time participating officially in the Gluten Free Menu Swap, hosted by Weird and Suprisingly Good. Her theme for the week is Latin food but I went to my cupboard and thought our theme should be “food you already have in the house” so I scrapped Latin and went with my own. And, I might add, that the only things we need to purchase for this week’s menu are: a bag of spinach and some mozzarella. Everything else we have in the house.

So here we go:

Pork Tenderloin with Maple sauce, rice (leftovers), carrots and peas – we had this tonight and it was fab. I kept dipping into the maple sauce. Mmm. The Husband = very good cook.

Brown Rice Tinkyada Spaghetti with Pasta Sauce already made in the freezer.

Moose Meatloaf with peas and potatoes – we’ve had this moose meat in the freezer for a long time and seriously need to use it up. If I don’t have enough, I’ll combine it with some ground beef.

Pizza (Pamela’s crust) with onions, leftover meat, and whatever else we have in the frige.

Spinach Garlic Soup as a starter followed by leftovers.

Artichoke Pork with Broccoli and Rice or Potato

And finally.. leftovers 🙂 We have to have at least 1-2 nights of them or else we waste food which is not the point of menu planning.

My surgery is on Friday so I’m guessing that leftovers will be Friday/Saturday this week.

Menu Planning

I’m going for week two of menu planning and I’m quite excited. Here’s what we have on tap:

1. Pasta – a staple in our house. It’ll be Tinkyada Fetuccini this week.
2. Polenta with sauted onions, peppers and maple sausage, covered with provolone cheese.
3. Artichoke Chicken with Carrots and Baked Potatoes
4. Coconut Mango Chicken
5. Leftovers
6. Burgers
7. Meatloaf

This is the last week before my surgery so I wanted to make it a big cooking week for me.

We start on Saturdays so I’ve already made the Polenta – taken from Wendy’s Celiacs in the House on Saturday night. The Husband was skeptical – we’ve never had Polenta before and it was SO good!!! I added some pasta sauce that had to be finished and this gave it a nice flavour too. I think it would have been good without but mmm. The Girl inhaled hers (which is big given she refuses to eat most things these days). The Boy actually ate sausage (he typically doesn’t eat meat) so overall I think it’s a meal we’ll totally repeat.

We also made Artichoke Chicken and it’s amazing as usual. It’s a mix of mayo, artichokes chopped up, garlic, and parmasean cheese. Coat the chicken in a rosemary seasoning, and fry the chicken until basically cooked. You then put the artichoke mixture on the chicken and broil it for about 5-10 minutes (until it’s golden brown). It’s so fantastic.

I’m excited for most of the meals this week but I’m not sure what to cook on Tuesday. I know it’s St Patrick’s day but it’s also The Boy’s Birthday! He’s going to be 3 – how did that happen already???

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