Tag Archives: soy-free

Gluten-Free Halloween Treats: Layered Ice Cream & “Spooky Eyes” (Baked Chicken Meatballs)

Halloween is the ultimate holiday in my books. I love wearing costumes, carving pumpkins, lighting fireworks, decorating our apartment, trick-or-treating, eating copious amounts of chocolate and candy, and the list just goes on from there! This was my first Halloween eating gluten-free and soy-free so I needed to rethink the candy and chocolate situation a little. I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat much of the store bought stuff, but what fun, Halloween-themed items could I make for myself instead? Here’s what I came up with…

“Spooky Eyes” are a fun meatball appetizer I developed using sliced black olives over melted mozzarella cheese to make them look like ghoulish eyeballs. These meatballs were super easy to make and they looked and tasted great. Here’s my simple recipe if you want to make them yourself.

“Spooky Eyes”: Ghoulish, Gluten-Free Baked Chicken Meatballs

For the meatballs:
850 grams ground chicken (you could also use ground turkey, beef or pork too)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup minced fresh basil
1 medium onion, minced
1 small can tomato paste (5.50z / 156 ml)
1/2 cup ground Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

For the topping:
1 – 2 cups tomato sauce
grated mozzarella cheese
1 can sliced black olives

1. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken with all of the meatball ingredients listed above. I made sure my onions, garlic and basil were finely minced by running all of them through my food processor first. Mix ingredients together until they are evenly combined.

2. Shape mixture into evenly sized meatballs and bake them in the oven at 425 F until they are cooked and start to brown (about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven).

3. Remove the tray of cooked meatballs from the oven and allow them to cool slightly (enough to work without burning yourself). Once ready, spoon a dollop of tomato sauce directly onto each meatball.

4. Top each meatball with a handful of grated mozzarella cheese. Arrange the pieces of cheese so that they will melt into a solid white shape easily.

5. Top each meatball with a good slice of black olive to make it look like an eyeball. If you wish, you can set the olive slices off-centre to make them look cross-eyed.

6. Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until the cheese has melted solid. Serve warm.

Layered Ice Cream

I also had my first foray into the world of layered ice cream this Halloween. I saw a photo of it in a cooking magazine and Halloween was the perfect excuse to try it. These tasty treats were also very easy to make. However, they did require a lot of time and patience to pull them off successfully.

I used disposable plastic wine glasses as the ice cream dishes since I didn’t have any glass ones. I used store-bought vanilla and mango ice cream, and some gluten-free and soy-free chocolate sauce. I let the mango ice cream melt a bit, then I pressed spoonfuls into the bottom of the cups trying to fill in all the gaps. I let them sit out on the counter until the layer leveled out a bit before putting them into the freezer to chill.

Many hours later I added the chocolate sauce layer, but here’s where I screwed up. I had put the little ice creams into our mini-freezer before, and they weren’t actually as frozen as I had thought. I had to heat the chocolate sauce up a bit to get it to pour smoothly and once the warm chocolate sauce hit the semi-frozen ice cream it sank straight to the bottom of the cup. I ruined quite a few this way before pulling the plug on the chocolate sauce operation. I cleared some space in our regular freezer and froze the cups over night. The next day when I added the warm chocolate sauce layer it settled perfectly. Time and patience are truly the key to this dish.

After the chocolate sauce layer had sufficiently frozen, I microwaved a big dish of vanilla ice cream to make it a liquid. I filled up the cups with the remaining vanilla layer and chilled them for a few more hours. The results, at least in the cups where I re-froze the mango again, were nice flat layers of ice cream with a gooey chocolate sauce layer in the middle. If you have the time, I highly recommend making these next Halloween!

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Eating Allergy Free

Two months ago, I discovered I had a host of food allergies I’d never known about before. For years I’d always felt a bit off in the digestive area. I’d tried avoiding certain foods, drinking more liquids, taking supplements, and following special diets, but more often than not, I felt bloated and unable to digest properly after eating. I even felt gross after eating completely harmless meals such as a vegetable stir fry or a fruit salad.

After so many years of feeling this way, I began to accept these symptoms as normal. I thought this was going to be my everyday life. All that changed in July when I had a food sensitivity test done. Turns out I’m sensitive to 13 common foods! It’s been two months since I completely changed my diet and I’m feeling noticeably better than I did before. My stomach hurts less, I don’t feel bloated all the time, I have a lot more energy and I feel less generalized aches and pains. As if that isn’t enough to keep me motivated, I’ve lost a few pounds too! But my new diet is definitely not free of challenges.

I’m now avoiding the following 13 foods: wheat, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, ginger, mushrooms, bananas, all types of melons, red wine, coffee, beer & MSG.

The first four on the list are the biggest offenders. Eating gluten-free on its own is fairly easy to accommodate these days, but more often than not, gluten-free products are loaded with soy. Soy, I’ve discovered, is in everything. I’ve said goodbye to all the pre-made gluten-free cake and bread mixes, and most of the gluten-free crackers,  tortillas, English muffins and more. (I’ve even had to say goodbye to almost all chocolate!) Throw the egg allergy on top of gluten and soy and there goes another big chunk of my old favourite recipes.

Vegetable and Mascarpone Quiche with Potato Crust

Some things are just impossible to replace. Soy sauce, which I love, is a definite challenge. A stir fry just isn’t the same without it. And bananas? Previously, I was eating a banana almost every morning, so what gives? Have I been eating them too often, and overloaded my body? In time, I’ll experiment with adding bananas and mushrooms back into my diet, but for the time being I’m resolving to be as strict with my food as possible. That means I’m making almost everything from scratch.

It isn’t all bad though. I’m learning new things, trying new recipes. I’ve got several allergy-free friends to offer me advice, and I’ve discovered a whole massive network of allergy-free bloggers online with loads of delicious new recipes to try. I made a few amazing fruit pies with this pie crust recipe from the Art of Gluten-Free Baking, and some scrumptious cornbread using this recipe from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

Berry Pie (crust recipe from the Art of Gluten-Free Baking)

Although it certainly is time consuming to learn this new style of cooking, I’m always up for a new culinary challenge. I feel healthier, and I’m finding new recipes that satisfy old cravings. That reminds me, it’s time for me to take a batch of chocolate chip cookies (from Gluten-Free Goddess) out of the oven. Thank heavens for Enjoy Life’s allergy-free mini chocolate chips that I purchased recently. So far they’re the only soy-free form of chocolate I’ve been able to find!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from Gluten-Free Goddess)