Even though our Ottawa winter was heralded with warmer than usual temperatures and no snow by the time Christmas rolled around (a fairly unusual occurrence), John and I packed our bags and headed out for a winter escape (planned several months ago) for a bucket list destination: New Orleans, Louisiana.
The beauty and the majesty of the mighty oaks in front of the Oak Alley Plantation
After a fairly easy-going travel day (thank you Mother Nature!) we arrived at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, happy and reassured to find our luggage made it as well. The uneventful travel day was especially sweet since it was New Year’s Eve and because we had made it with plenty of time to spare to take in the festivities. I admit I was mentally prepared for the possibility of spending New Year’s Eve in an airport due to weather, mechanical or logistical issues like missed connections, but in the end everything worked out! YAY!
Our first destination was the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant in the French quarter for a special dinner to ring in the New Year. It did not take longer than for the appetizers to arrive to fully appreciate the great things I had heard about southern hospitality, given the kind, warm and attentive nature of the team that greeted us with open arms. What an amazing way to start a vacation! We then decided to take a gentle stroll to burn off some of the calories, and to take in the merriment and festive spirit that was in abundance throughout the French Quarter. We concluded the evening in Jackson Square, a great vantage point to take in the brilliant fireworks show and traditional dropping of the fleur-de-lis to ring in 2016.
Our chilly New Year’s Day began with Continue reading
Batch cooking has become a way of life in this household, since the discovery of my intolerance to wheat products 10 years ago. In a nutshell, it just means preparing food in a full recipe that serves 6, 8 or 10 people and freezing the leftovers. It isn’t really rocket science, but in this day where cooking at home seems to be a dying art in our fast-paced world, it just means returning to our roots somewhat. Our mothers and grandmothers did it almost every night, so why can’t we?
In my case, to take it one step farther and make it even easier, I separate and freeze the leftovers in single serving containers. That way, I have a complete and balanced meal in one container, ready to bring to work for lunch or to pop in the microwave to enjoy anytime I need a quick meal.
It takes a bit of preparation and organization, but it definitely pays off in the long run when I know exactly what went into each meal, I am not risking the repercussions of an accidental dose of wheat, and I can control portions of everything that I make.
Sometimes, the fun part of batch cooking is the ability to buy regular or family-sized sized portions of ingredients and know with certainty that with careful planning, little will get wasted. Better yet is the prospect of getting a deal or being able to save money on the ingredients, especially when the recipes you would like to make align with the weekly specials at the grocery store.
Then we have those serendipitous moments like the chicken lottery:
Some of the grocery stores nearby sell prepared (gluten free) roast chickens as a convenient option for busy families on the go. To me they are also Continue reading
It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago that the nutritionist said, “I think we found our culprit: it’s the wheat product family”. At first, the news brought instant relief in that we finally knew what the problem was. A moment later, the relief turned to panic in terms of “How the heck will I live without wheat products? Wheat is in everything! Where do I begin?”
Ten years does not seem that long ago, but in the wheat-free/gluten-free world it was a lifetime ago. The awareness and popularity of the products over the years have paved the way for greater competition and for companies to try to outdo each other and to have clients reaching for their pocketbooks.
However, back in 2005, some of the first gluten-free cookies I tried were… well… bad. Frankly, the packaging they came in might have been tastier. It wasn’t easy, but I survived on a lot of salad, grilled chicken and home-made shepherd’s pie in that first year. I am so thankful that times have changed.
What led me to the doctor and nutritionist’s office in the first place was a series of digestive issues that were seemingly getting more intense as time went on. In the months that preceded those visits, my stomach was often bloated, distended and often so noisy when it came to post-lunch digestion, to the point that I was embarrassed to attend afternoon meetings. I tried to drink as much water as I could to help drown the sound, but then I just had an orchestra of digestion noises AND gurgly, bubbly noises.
It was the month I turned 40 that things took a turn for the worst. At first, I thought it was just a little overindulgence Continue reading
If there was ever a factor that might tag me as the black sheep of the family it is this: my aversion to salt. Throughout my family, we have hard core salt lovers, including my own parents. As a child, I remember my Dad putting salt on his food without even tasting it first, which always seemed odd to me. I also remember my Mom checking her food first then occasionally sprinkling salt over my food and me whining in an exasperated tone “Mo-o-o-om, I don’t want more salt”. The fact is, I never really acquired the taste for it… even to this day.
I am not saying I don’t eat salt at all, of course I do. It is in everything. But in the war of salty vs. sweet, in my opinion, sweet wins. A full salt shaker will probably last a good 2 years in my house. A box of salt may very well last longer, used exclusively for cooking and baking. When guests come over, I have to make a concerted effort to remember to put the shakers on the table as they rarely get a workout when it’s just me. How many people do you know who have to dust the salt shaker?… it’s not to the point of cob webs yet, but some day perhaps.
To navigate the salty snack food universe, if I get a craving for nuts, I will often get the unsalted ones and then add just one small sprinkle of salt myself. Potato chips can get dangerous for me because if I eat regular ones, I can eat a handful and put away the bag after that. But put a bag of sodium-reduced ones in front of me (which I think taste better anyway), don’t blink, as they will disappear quickly. The same goes with pretzels, one handful and I’m fine for the day. I like them, but the salt itself is what deters me from going overboard… that is unless I can get someone to lick the salt off them first.
Unfortunately, I have not been so lucky with popcorn. I don’t know what it is but with some popcorn brands, I wake up the next day with my lips very red and plumped up… not a great look on a dude. To feed the popcorn craving, I have been contemplating the idea of getting a hot air corn popper (again) but all I remember from my first one was having a disappointingly high number of unpopped kernels in each batch. Plus, I really don’t have space to add another gadget to my kitchen… Hmm.. maybe if I got rid of the salt shaker.
As I get older and seemingly retain water like a sponge (temporarily), Continue reading