The Wooden Monkey: Gluten free in Halifax, Nova Scotia

As I said in my other post, recently we made a trip north to Canada–more specifically to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Now, Halifax may not be a gluten free paradise like some cities or Disney World, but it can hold it’s own for a small city/big town! It’s also beautiful, here’s a view of the waterfront from a boat:
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There were a few places on the water with safe options for lunch and dinner, but having done my research before I came, I saw there was a gluten free bakery (that I’ll cover in another post) and a celiac-friendly (not just gluten free, celiac-friendly!) restaurant called The Wooden Monkey.

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The Wooden Monkey has two locations–one in Halifax a few blocks uphill from the waterfront boardwalk area and one across the water at the ferry landing in Dartmouth, near Evan’s Fresh Seafood. The one in Dartmouth was closed on Mondays when we wanted to visit, so we went to the one up the hill in Halifax.

They are focused on local and healthy, they don’t even have a deep fryer, but they do have safe fries that are baked and delicious! They have lots of vegan and vegetarian options in addition to gluten free and their menu has entrees with nuts, soy, and dairy marked on the menu.

For their starters, they have lots of gluten free options, we opted to order the nachos and a side of their version of fries, called “Roasties.” It was a large order, flavorful, and plentiful. Truth be told, this with an order of their fries would have been enough food to skip an entree and then have dessert.
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The entree menu is entirely gluten free but largely seafood based, as many menus are in this fishing town, but as I don’t love fish, I opted for the braised beef with mashed potatoes. It had good flavor though a little strong on the onion flavor, but it was too heavy for me to finish after the hearty appetizer. They also had gluten free pizza and buns which sounded great, but they had sorghum (which I also can’t tolerate). The full menu can be viewed on their website.
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Dessert holds two gluten free options–tofu pie and local, organic dairy ice cream. While the Tofu pie comes highly recommended, I avoid most forms of soy and the crust is made from nuts, so I simple had the ice cream which was good.

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I’d recommend the Wooden Monkey to anyone visiting Halifax or Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but especially anyone with food allergies or dietary restrictions, as they know their ingredients and mark the top 8 allergens, too!

(I was not compensated in any way for this post, just trying to share what I know to help others with food allergies enjoy their trip more!)

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4 ingredient Lava Cakes – gluten, soy, & nut free

Easy Lava Cakes – gluten, soy, & nut free

I apologize this post wasn’t up for Valentine’s Day, but my husband found and tweaked this recipe for me and it is absolutely DELICIOUS! So, naturally, I had to type it up and share it with you all! Now you have it for whatever your next special occasion is (your birthday, Easter, or Saturday–you know, we don’t judge around here!)

My husband says thankfully they’re not hard to make, because I have asked for him to make them again tonight, so I had fresh photos, of course! 😉

Lava Cake GF finished with powdered sugar

  • 8 TBSP butter (or non-dairy alternative for dairy free)
  • ¾ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (Top 8 free)
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks (ideally free-range, just sayin’)
  • 2 TBSP sugar (I prefer Woodstock Organic unbleached)
    Lava Cake GF ingredients
    INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a muffin pan. (I prefer the “If You Care” brand of muffin liners, they are are not bleached. Can be found on Vitacost.com or Whole Foods.)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together over low heat until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture until well combined.
  4. Divide among 9 standard muffin cups and bake until cakes are puffed up, but still jiggly in the center – about 6 to 8 minutes. Lava Cakes GF in oven
  5. Turn out upside down onto a plate, garnish, and serve immediately.
    Lava Cakes GF finished

*This could also easily be made dairy free by using a non dairy butter substitute.

**These can be topped with fruit, powdered sugar, or a Free2B Suncup–that makes it taste like there is a peanut butter sauce on top (but they are peanut & nut free, soy free, shellfish/fish free, gluten free, egg free, and working on dairy free).
Lava Cake GF gooeyness
OR you can take them with you to Outback and have them with their amazing ice cream and homemade fudge sauce (it’s gluten free, as is the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under–but that brownie has nuts, so normally I just have the ice cream and chocolate sauce).
Outback sundae with lava cake GF

Squash Lasagna – gluten free, low carb, and yummy!

Summer Squash Lasagna GF

Squash Lasagna

*Not the prettiest picture. I was too excited and ate a bunch before taking a picture. This was after I sliced it and put it i the fridge, but you get the idea.

I love lasagna, but finding gluten free noodles isn’t always easy and this is a way to make it lower carb and get some veggies in!

Ingredients

1/2 jar Prego spaghetti sauce (gluten free–I like the Three Cheese variety)
2-3 medium yellow summer squash
16 oz. container of cottage cheese (I like Daisy–very few ingredients, creamy, and gluten free)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (separated into two 1 cup servings)
1/2 pound cooked ground beef
1 egg

*This is for an 8×8 square pan, double the recipe for a 9×13 casserole dish.

Slice squash into thin rounds
Toss lightly in some olive oil and bake in the oven about 10 minutes (or microwave) until soft.
Mix together cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 egg, ground beef, and as much spaghetti sauce as desired. (I like to layer them separate as seen below, but for simplicity you can mix it all in one bowl.)
Squash Lasagna cheeses egg      Squash Lasagna beef and sauce

Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of square pan.
Layer spaghetti squash over the sauce.
Spoon cheese/beef mixture over squash slices.
Over the cheese, lay another layer of squash.
Spoon cheese/beef mixture over squash slices.
Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil.
Cook at 375 for about 40 minutes, broil for 3-5 minutes to brown the top, if desired.

Squash Lasagna building GF

*I prefer yellow summer squash because it doesn’t have a bitter taste like zucchini can and it’s not as overbearing as other kinds of squash, but this could work with other squash varieties, if you desire.

Wednesday Review: Cherrybrook Kitchen Frosting (Top 8 free)

Cherrybrook White Icing GF 2

Have you been searching for an allergen-friendly frosting that is ready made? Maybe you just want one that doesn’t have artificial dye or high fructose corn syrup? Well, there’s one that meets ALL of those requirements!  Cherrybrook Kitchen has some wonderful allergen friendly foods, including ready to spread vanilla or chocolate frosting!

This tastes similar to homemade icings made with confectioners (10x) sugar. It is quite sweet, but good.  The consistency is thick but spreadable.  While I have some good recipes for homemade icing, they all require having safe equipment and ingredients on hand, plus time to make them.  With this ready to spread frosting, you can have it on the road/away from home or when you’re just out of time!

Cherrybrook White Icing GF ingredients

Here are the ingredients along with their allergen statement: free of the top 8 and made in a facility free of peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, and gluten (and tested).  They are also certified Kosher and approved by the Feingold Association!  I buy this locally at Organic Food Depot (like a co-op), but I also have seen it available online at iHerb.com and in multi-packs on Amazon.

Safe, Raw Cookie Dough: Top 8 Allergen Free

Egg-less gluten free Cookie dough

Eggless Cookie Dough GF

I love a good, raw cookie dough but my mother was far too overprotective to ever let us eat it. Her facts about salmonella take all the enjoyment out of eating it. Until now! Simply make egg-less cookie dough so it’s safe to eat in its dough form.

The recipe I use is below.  The only modification from the recipe I use in order for it to be top 8 free would be a butter substitute for dairy free. (Recipe modified from FlippinDelicious: http://flippindelicious.com/2015/07/gluten-free-edible-cookie-dough-egg-less.html):

  • 1/4 cup butter (or butter substitute for dairy free), melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk alternative or water (yes, I was out of milk and used water–it worked!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Cup4Cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (gluten free, nut free, dairy free, soy free)*
    *another option is Equal Exchange–they don’t have mini chocolate chips, but they are fair trade and gluten/soy/nut/dairy/egg free and made in a facility free of those)

The result is a delicious cookie dough that is safe to eat. I’m not sure how this would turn out if you baked it–I just eat it as dough. I have also mixed it with ice cream for a gluten free cookie dough ice cream (pictured below)–YUM!

Eggless Cookie Dough Ice Cream GF

Walt Disney World Review: Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe GF menu cover

Set on the second floor of the Polynesian Hotel (along the monorail from Magic Kingdom) is the Kona Cafe. This was our first visit to this restaurant, but I’d read many good things about allergies here.  It’s open to the walkway and overlooks the Polynesian foyer.  To me this makes it look like a lunch sandwich style place, not fast food but not a normal sit-down dinner place either, but they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a sit down meal (non-quick service).  We dined for lunch.

Kona Cafe GF menu

They are trying out a special gluten free menu, which gave me a starting list of options. However, once I spoke to the chef and we removed the pork, peanut, and soy options…almost no options were left. Chef Amber was very kind and knowledgeable, she offered to make me a salad for the appetizer. The salad was good but be warned, their almond pieces are chopped and spread throughout the salad, which I did not enjoy but were too small and plentiful to pick out. The greens were great, the citrus vinegrette was yummy, and the pear pieces were delightful.

Kona Cafe salad too many almond pieces

The entree was to be plain chicken and white rice for the entree. She served the chicken with a delicious mango puree (not pictured unfortunately!), but I thought being served absolutely plain chicken with rice was a restaurant fail. Could they not have cooked it in the mango puree or added cheese or something? The rice was also hard and dry :-(. The mango puree was heavenly!

Kona Cafe bland chicken with mango puree

We had a reminder here that you must always be diligent for yourself, even with the best chef. I always bring a list of my allergens, since I have several, but the chef still almost missed the chorizo in the soup as pork!  She may have realized it in the kitchen, but luckily I stopped her before that.  My side was just fruit.

Kona Cafe dessert2

For dessert, I had already discovered when the chefs came out with no real offering to suit my needs (they usually offered just fruit or sorbet), I would ask for ice cream and enjoy life cookies.  For some reason, this wasn’t usually offered, but was always available when I asked! So here I had vanilla ice cream and Enjoy Life soft baked brownie cookies!

Overall, I appreciated another safe meal but was disappointed with having no real choice and very limited flavor.  I had bigger expectations, but I would order the salad again without the almonds and perhaps return for the mango puree if it could be worked into the chicken/rice as it was cooked.

Wednesday Review: Banana Pudding with gluten free Vanilla Wafers

I’m going to try to stick to a bit more of a system. Mid-week (Wednesday-ish) I’ll post a review of a gluten free item.  Then on the weekend (Sunday-ish), I’ll post a review of a restaurant.  Hopefully this will bring balance and consistency to my blog.  Sometimes I post a ton of restaurant reviews right after a trip, but then I have nothing to post for a while.  Let me know what posts mean more to you and if you like the new schedule!

Our first Wednesday Review is a 2 for 1.  European Gourmet banana pudding and Kinnikinnick gluten free Vanilla Wafers.

Banana Pudding GF

While the European Gourmet organic banana pudding doesn’t specify gluten free, I contacted the company and they said it is.  I wanted a dye-free, natural or organic pudding (that was also gluten free, nut free, soy free, and carrageenan free–quite the tall order) so this was perfect!  I used Lactaid milk, as I can handle dairy but lactose is hard on me.  I haven’t tried it with a dairy-free milk alternative, but it might work.  This is a pudding you have to cook instead of instant, but it’s worth it to me to have the good ingredients!

The Gluten free vanilla Kinnikinnick wafers are just like you remember vanilla wafers–these are gluten free, nut free, peanut free, dairy free, and soy free (they use sunflower lecithin instead of soy–yay! but it is made in the same facility as some soy).

The only thing that would make this better is some whipped cream!

*As always, these opinions are my own and I haven’t been compensated for the reviews.