Sodium Calculations

As I wrote about a month and a half ago, I have to watch my intake of sodium. The biggest thing with watching your sodium comes from how much of that salty goodness is in pre-packaged food. Unfortunately, there is still sodium in almost every food you imbibe.

I am still working my way through the processed food in my house. But at this point, the processed foods that I consume is getting less and less.

That said, deciphering how much you eat on a daily basis is like trying to keep track of how many breathes you take in a minute. You have to pay attention to the point of distraction – of enjoyment of life.

The biggest distraction from that is how much are you actually supposed to have since every bottle or package gives you the serving dosage based on mg & percentage of daily diet. So in order to combat that issue, I have done a bit of research.

According to Health Canada, adults and teens should not eat more than 2300 mg per day, compared to the recommended of 1500 mg. Supposedly an average Canadian typically consume about 3400 mg daily. After calculations, I was consuming close to four times that amount – WAS being the primary word there.

Now I am much more aware.and have one cheat day a week, but am doing my best to keep it in check.

So the interesting thing about that is something like 358 mg being 16% is wrong … that would be closer to the 2300 at the upper limit. Therefore, keep in mind 1500 mg, not percentages!

Over the next few weeks, I will be trying to do some rough calculations and putting in how many grams of salt are in servings – if it can be considered something like low sodium. Unfortunately most of recipes are not normally that way and they will not be labeled as low-sodium obviously.

I will try to re-post recipes when I figure out the sodium in a serving AND it will be tagged with a new Low Sodium label. And I will start the development of some low-sodium recipes as well. Some of those include stuff like naturally low-sodium salad dressing or home-made stuff burgers.

As always remember, GF does not mean Taste Free!

Life without …

So it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a chance to write anything. You know what happened? Life … fancy that!

Living in Canada means that my kids don’t get out of school until the end of June. So the school year’s end is a truly hectic time with all those closing events, then we roll into summer and all kinds of different events. You would think we would be used to this over the summer and other times throughout the year. I mean over the last few years I’ve had to bow out of writing during the holiday season due to having absolutely no time for anything other than work, sleep and trying to figure out how to fit in all of the extra stuff beyond kids’ activities.

And that’s another thing that kills me, this summer should have been easier to deal with because we didn’t have school activities three nights a week. Nope, not the case. Why? Life and more importantly – life with medical issues. I am not going to bore you with the details because of privacy for myself and my family. But there is one thing that has come out of this summer that has meant a major change in my eating habits.

I am now supposed to be eliminating all sodium. SHOOT ME NOW!

Seriously, life without cheese?! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I like cheese. I mean, really, really LIKE cheese. Let’s see if we can add insult to injury – how about no eggs? WTF! Hmmm, bacon’s gone. OMG! Who did this to me?! I will hunt you down and … oh wait no doctor’s orders due to some of those medical things, what are they called? Conditions!

I can’t do it.

For one, I will not give up meat or cheese. For me, I realized it was going to be all about moderation once I started looking at my salt intake. And for me it’s not really salt intake, it really is the sodium in food, particularly cheese. I figured out I was eating about 4-5 times the normal daily amount when most people eat about twice as much. Yeah ok, I’m a big guy, but I guess that really doesn’t give me a pass on that.

This new directive came about within the last two weeks along with a 30-minute walk a day. The things you do when you are pre-diabetic, pre-heart disease. So now not only do I have to be really picky about what I eat due to Gluten, but now I get to be really picky if I don’t know what I’m getting when I eat something I don’t prepare.

Over the last two weeks, I have taken stock of all the foods in my house that I typically eat and I have a bit to work through before I can really start doing more and more changes. What that means for me at this point is really portion control and ensuring that I am not overloading something, say a salad, with bacon bits, cheese and salad dressing, because they all have so much sodium. I have to really look at what I eat throughout the day while knowing what I am eating at night so I don’t blow that daily allowance.

Of course the biggest question as you’re reading this will likely be, what about your recipes? What that means is that over the next while, I will likely be looking at them to see how I can alter them for a low-sodium alternative, such as my Cajun Rice Stuffing. I was able to alter it and change it so that I didn’t lose the flavour since Gluten Free does not mean Taste Free. Some that I won’t be able to alter include any of the ones that include baking – so most desserts and even some of the stuff like the pizza dough.

Again portion control. And I know I will be giving myself a cheat day, because I have to. I have an addiction to cheese and I will try to reign it in, but I want a day to really enjoy my food.

And I will be looking at creating some dishes that will be as close to zero sodium as possible. Thoughts for recipe include a homemade salad dressing without the added salt. I’ve seriously got to look at some recipes for broth now that is truly low sodium not the stuff that’s store bought that still gives you 40% of your daily allowance with one serving.

As I start trying to do those alters, I will re-post them and I will definitely post those new recipes as well. I still have some older recipes that I have been working on and want to still get those out. As with all of my recipes, you should be able to filter them for most allergies now including sodium!

Until next time, have a plate of nachos with extra bacon, cheese and Doritos!

Five Guys – Saskatoon

I’m not exactly sure when Five Guys Burgers & Fries opened up in the States or when it became such a big thing. Honestly it just seems like it’s another restaurant that has gone by the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid. They made the menu small and tried to hit the few menu items out of the park.

The chain reminds me vaguely of a college-town restaurant that was extremely popular in Athens, Georgia – Go Dawgs! They served chicken fingers and sandwiches made of said chicken with a special sauce. I went once and that was all I needed. Funny thing – most of the press clippings on the walls of Five Guys seem to be from either college newspapers or alternative newspapers, which mainly college students read.

The interesting thing about this location in Saskatoon was that there was a pretty good mix of clientele – from families with kids to 20-somethings to older couples. That said, if you have a high sensitivity to Gluten, you might want to skip chancing this one.


Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Rating – 3.5 out of 5 Peppers – Burgers, hot dogs and fries. Good toppings, good food, but you pay for it.

Location: Eighth Street, Saskatoon

Restaurant type: At your own discretion Gluten Friendly – There is no GF menu. What you see is what you get. If you don’t eat the buns, your burger or hot dog is technically GF as are most of the non-sauce fixin’s and fries. That said, I won’t use their sauce selection and/or would be very leery of cross-contamination as nothing is separated in the kitchen.

Food: The quality of the food was pretty good. It’s definitely better than a fast food burger and in some ways, they serve better burgers than say a chain such as Milestone’s (Canadian) or Applebees (American). One of the best things about this place is the bag of fries – about the only thing worth the exorbitant price of the burgers.

Selection: The only real selection you have here is with or without cheese or bacon on your small or large hot dog or burger. Oh and you can have your fries with Cajun spice that is not as good as my recipe. Beyond that the list of options to put on the burgers is impressive if not a rather standard group of choices – jalapenos and hot sauce being the only standouts for burger fair.

Price: Granted you get a double with each burger and a big ole bag o’ fries, but … It’s not worth it – I could spend just as much and feed five guys at my place with tastier options and better quality. The price is what will keep me away from this place.

Spicy Ending: It’s high quality, but simple burgers, It’s honestly not worth the price or the hype for me to go out of my way.

The Holidays are upon us

As most of you are aware, the holiday season has hit North America like the Polar Express steaming into the North Pole. Some of you know that I am a family man with a wife and girl/boy twins. Some of you may also know that I work in retail – and that’s the reason why this blog post is a tad late.

I will be and am currently in a bit of a hiatus. Life gets hectic with family during the holiday. Well amp that up by about 10 when you actually are responsible for a retail establishment and your job does not end after a normal 8-hour shift.

So I will be back with new recipes, new reviews and potentially some more news after the new year dawns!

Happy Holidays from me to you! May you and your families have a great time and may you never be glutenized!

GF Cookies

As you may have noticed from my blog and from numerous social media posts, I LOVE cookies. Home-made are always the best – made with love and those beautiful passed down recipes.

Unfortunately, life has a way of making things busy. You know – kids, kids’ activities, holidays, work, family, significant others, and the list goes on and on. Thankfully, there are ways to get a cookie fix other than homemade.

And thankfully, there are store-bought cookies that are better than others.

Now there is a caveat. Many of these store bought cookies go to extremes trying to suit everyone – so they are GF, Nut Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free … thankfully after all that they aren’t taste free! Rather than the typical restaurant review, I will be talking about different kinds of cookies that I have tried and potentially do some comparisons as well. After all this is all about store bought cookies and what I like. It’s my opinion and like the extreme Allergy Friendly (AF) cookies – if you like ’em, eat ’em!

Oreo Sandwich-Style Cookies

When I could eat any old cookie out of a bag, I would literally devour a row of Oreos without a second thought. Sure it’s not healthy, then again, have you seen my recipes?! I love food and I love cookies. So AD, I had to change my ways and I intentionally or unintentionally started hunting for Oreo-style cookies. And I’ve tried two types of these cookies – Kinnikinnick KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies and the Wal-Mart brand Good Value GF Chocolate Sandwich cookies.

Kinnikinnick KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies

Allergy Alert – GF, Nut Free, Dairy Free (though they are processed in the same factory as eggs), and Vegan

Texture – These are the closest cookie I have found to an original that was not homemade! I think anyone who loves Oreos would be hard pressed to tell the difference if they were blind-folded despite the fact that they are so AF. Typically an AF cookies like this would have a bit of a granular feel to it, but not these little morsels!

Taste – What can I say? While I can’t go back and try it myself, I really do think people wouldn’t be able to taste the difference between a real Oreo and the KinniToos!

Price/Availability – While in Canada, the chocolate variety is a little harder to find for some reason than the Vanilla cookie version. As for the price, they are not as cheap as the Wal-Mart brand, but you pay for what you get.

Good Value GF Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Allergy Alert – Gluten Free

Texture – These cookies are almost as good as the KinniToos, but not quite. They’re a little harder, which might be closer to the OG Oreo.

Taste – However, that doesn’t mean that they taste as good as the OG. Like most imitations, this one is just found lacking.

Price/Availability – There are three Wal-Marts within a 20-mile radius, you do the math! And yes, they are more expensive than regular Oreos, but less than the KinniToos – for a reason.

Drop-Style Cookies

There are a number of different styles of cookies, both on shelves and in cookbooks. Another favourite of mine is the other classic – Chocolate Chip. Unfortunately there has never been a store-bought version that can beat homemade – either GF or not. So we will talk about other types of drop cookies – such as chocolate cookies or these next delectable morsels.

Udi’s Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies

Allergy Alert – Gluten Free

Texture – They were soft, chewy, crunchy – delicious. Just how a drop cookie should be – not some rock hard discus that’s only good for skeet.

Taste – OMG! If I could figure out how to make these at home, I would! They are fantastic and should not be shared with anyone else – except me if I’m at your house for some reason! The combination of the cashews and caramel is really inspired and makes an amazing flavour, especially for someone like me whose go-to cookie has chocolate as the main ingredient.

Price/Availability – I have only been able to find these once – at Costco. And they were a little more expensive than your other average store bought cookies, but so, SO worth it.

Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Allergy Alert – I don’t know what they make these things from … they’re GF, Peanut, Tree Nut, Soya, Potato, Wheat, Fish, Shellfish, Sesame, Sulfites, Dairy, Egg and Casein Free.

Texture – While they are soft and chewy, they do have a bit of that granular texture to them.

Taste – Despite the granular taste, they are tasty. There’s a rich chocolate flavour that you would expect in a brownie cookie and it’s a worthwhile alternative to chocolate chip cookies.

Price/Availability – I’ve found these in a few different supermarket chains. And they’re still GF, so they’re still more expensive than non-AF food.

Cookie It Up Gluten-free Chocolate Chip

Allergy Alert – While these cookies are GF and nut free, they do contain milk and soy.

Texture – Very grainy. If you look at the ingredients for these cookies, you will see that only one type of flour (rice) is used. So far in my two years eating GF, it seems like that is a recipe for granular baking – not using a mix that mimics regular wheat flour.

Taste – Even without feeling like I was eating sand, these cookies were not worth the price I paid for them.

Price/Availability – There was only one place I’ve seen these in Canada and that is at Indigo. Hopefully the non-GF cookies are better quality than these.

Griffin Takeaway

Shortly BC, I didn’t know anything about Gluten Free food. I was pretty sure that gluten helped with elasticity in pizza and other types of dough. Other than that, I was clueless. Like most people TakeawayLunchI likely assumed that Gluten Free was taste free.

Well, since then I have discovered and proven to many family and friends that Gluten Free is Not Taste Free. And the Griffin Takeaway is one of those places that also proves that! People should try the Takeaway’s food whether they are on a GF diet or not. These guys are legit and Mom and Pop, and are worth the money. Let me tell you why …

The Griffin Takeaway

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Peppers – While this bakery/restaurant has loads of options, many of those options border on the culinary side of cooking rather than the Mom & Pop side that their facade suggests. There is nothing wrong with their food, it’s mostly delicious! There are just times when it might be cool to have something a little less French Bakery inspired and more Grandma inspired!

Location: Eighth Street E, Saskatoon

Restaurant type: Gluten Free with Vegan and Dairy and Nut Free options – While the Takeaway is primarily a GF bakery, they also do lunches for takeout.

Food: When I was diagnosed with Celiac, it was about a week before my 40th birthday. What a great shock that was! On the other hand, I found Griffin Takeaway with a week and my wife surprised me with a birthday cake from them. It was decadent, moist and definitely made me realize that Gluten Free does not mean taste free. The cake was a chocolate cake with an apple filling topped with a peanut butter frosting. Right up my alley, not too dense and just awesome.

Recently I went back in for lunch because I had time and I was close by, I was feeling adventurous so I went for the Flax Vegan bread Cheese-A-Tarian paired with a Fully Loaded baker and finished with a granola bar. The flax bread was light and moist, perfectly complementing the mixture of cheddars, cream cheese and feta along with tomatoes. The baked potato could have been a bit better – the chickpea chili needed more spice but was good overall and it needed to be warmed a bit more. And I’m sure people like the granola bars; it was uber-moist and chewy but seemed more like fruit cake than an actual granola bar to me.

TakeawayMenuSelection: For their lunch menu, there are surprisingly few options That said they do those options very well. On the flip side, they have a ton of different options for their bakery – they feature a ton of different cookies, breads, and other bakery options. In some ways, the simplicity of their store does little justice to the complexity of their food and the time and effort they lovingly put into it. That said, you can tell that they focus more on being a bakery and less on the variety of lunch menu since I don’t think it’s changed in a couple years. Eh, if it’s not broke, right?

Price: Most GF food is a little more expensive to start with. The lunch and the birthday cake I got were both a bit more expensive. However the prices were not high enough that I won’t go back to get takeout or get another cake.

Spicy Ending: There are a few GF restaurants in Toon Town. The Griffin Takeaway is one of the best!