Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dinner's on the table with VHSauces | Sweet & Sour Meatball Recipe | gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free

Did you know that some VH sauces that are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free?

They are not certified or labelled as such, but if you read the ingredients carefully there are a number of allergen friendly sauces, which also happen to be delicious, convenient and affordable. A rare treat for families with food allergies.

I was super excited about the opportunity to work with VHSauces via Collective Bias (#Cbias) and I spent some time browsing the VH Website and their multitude of recipe ideas, but in the end opted to share a tried and true favourite, gluten-free sweet and sour meatballs.

Since time always seems to be tight, I often run to the grocery store on my lunch break to grab a few items for dinner and this week was no different. I grabbed my co-worker, a summer student that's been a blast to have around, and headed over to Save-On-Foods to check out the selection of VH Sauces and pick up a couple boxes of coconut milk and some Daiya vegan cheese.

Although all the VH #DeliciousSauces were located in one aisle, they were not all in the same location.  I found some of the VH Sauces with the Indian cuisine and others located with the Asian cuisine.

In only five minutes I found a number of sauces that met our allergy needs (I read the labels EVERY time and so should you) and I didn't even take the time to read the Indian sauces as my husband doesn't care for curry flavours. I ended up buying the Sweet and Sour cooking sauce, the Teriyaki cooking sauce and the new Garlic Hoisin stir-fry sauce, which I can't wait to try.

But I digress, back to my sweet and sour meatballs. With only a little bit of prep the night before to make the meatballs, we had a sweet and tasty dinner on the table in about 15 minutes yesterday. A small, but important feat as my boys begin screaming for dinner if they aren't eating within 20 minutes of arriving home.

Quick, easy and delicious, I love the convenience of VH Sauces; they feel like a huge treat because I can so rarely find mainstream products that meet our dietary needs.

Check out photos of my entire experience with VH Sauces on Google + and keep reading for my recipe for simple homemade, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free sweet and sour meatballs.

Check out VH on Twitter and Facebook.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
(gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free)


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp gluten-free italian seasoing
  • 1 tsp dried, minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • VH Sweet and Sour Cooking Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together everything except the sweet and sour sauce.
  3. Use a tablespoon to create even sized meatballs.
  4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the temperature reaches 160F. Do not overcook.
  5. You can proceed directly to the next step or allow the meatballs to cool then refrigerate until ready to use. 
  6. Empty VH Sweet and Sour Cooking Sauce into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
  7. Add meatballs to the sauce and cook until warmed through.
  8. Enjoy, we like to eat ours with freshly cooked rice!
This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias
however all opinions are my own. #CBias 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Kat!

Some of you may know my sister, Kat. For those of you who don't, she's five years younger than me and I often describe her as just like me, only more intense, in all ways. She is fierce.
a moment in Seaside

She was the first high school student in Richmond to complete the apprenticeship program in hairdressing and she managed to finish a semester early. She is an amazing stylist, who can work wonders with your hair, but due to injury she retired and underwent a work retrain.

Our dad is a mechanic, but what defined him, was that he was a racecar driver. As children we spent hours at the racetrack and it made me giggle when I found out that Kat's boyfriend races autocross. With only a little prodding, R had Kat racing too.

Although I think its super amazing that Kat is racing and doing well, R blows my mind. He was just one of three drivers chosen, from across Canada, to participate in the Scion Tuner Challenge. Team VCMC is representing the West Coast through 11 different challenges in the Scion FRS, where the prize is the car! The first challenge was this weekend and I hear that Team VCMC rocked the challenge!!

If you or someone you know has an interest in racing, give Team VCMC your social media support and check them out the Team VCMC Blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Happy Birthday Kat, I hope its fabulous and I'll see you tonight for birthday sushi!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Green Your Routine with Seventh Generation | Giveaway

It's hard to believe that summer is rapidly coming to a close and that the back to school season is upon us. My kids are not yet school aged, but that doesn't mean that we can't take advantage of this transitional time to reprogram our lifestyle and green our routine.

Did you know that in only two weeks you can create a new habit, or break an old one, depending how you look at it?

The folks at Seventh Generation are challenging families to take four small steps to 'Green Your Routine' this fall and our household is up for the challenge. Over the next four weeks we are going to implement one small step per week; I hope you'll join in and help keep our planet a beautiful place to live.  Here's a summary of the 'Green Your Routine' program.
  • Week 1: The Litterless Lunch
  • Week 2: Watch How You Wash
  • Week 3: Choose a Fun, Fit and Sustainable Route to School
  • Week 4: Rebrand Responsibly
Are you interested in trying out Seventh Generation products? Make sure you enter below for your chance to win a Seventh Generation Starter Kit composed of coupons for a complimentary package of Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Soap, Free & Clear Kitchen Spray and 4X Laundry Detergent!  And if you're in the mood for winning, make sure you enter for a chance to win a Canadian Adventure for two courtesy of Seventh Generation.

Don't forget to check in later this week for my post on the litterless lunch.

Seventh Generation is on the Web, Facebook and Twitter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received product in exchange for this post, however all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Blueberry Cake | gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free recipe

blueberry cake closeI love blueberries and so do my boys. Fortunately, blueberries grow best in bog environments and Richmond, where we live, happens to be primarily bog so in the summertime, blueberries are bountiful. We eat blueberries in just about any form, but the fresh local berries are the absolute best. They're delicious, healthy and packed with antioxidants, I really don't see a downside.

When I saw this pin on Pinterest for buttermilk, blueberry breakfast cake, I knew I had to have it. I grabbed some blueberries out of the fridge, my janet & greta gluten-free flour mix and got to work creating a gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free version.

It turned out beautifully, spongy, soft and sweet with a hint of lemon to brighten the flavour of the blueberries. To me, it tastes like summer and as an added bonus, it travels well and would be great in parent and kid lunchboxes alike.

I prefer to use coconut oil in my recipes, but because of the summer heat it was already in its liquid form. Fortunately after I popped the coconut oil in the freezer for about 5 minutes it had partially harded and I was able to use my kitchen-aid mixer to create a smooth, creamy texture suitable for creaming with sugar.

Summer Blueberry Cake

Summer Blueberry Cake
(gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups of gluten-free flour mix*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp xantham gum**
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a 9" square cake pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine blueberries with 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour mix. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining gluten-free flour mix, baking powder, salt and xantham gum. Set aside.
  4. Blend coconut oil until creamy, blend in the sugar.
  5. Add eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Starting with the dry ingredients, alternately add the dry mix and the coconut milk to the wet ingredients, mixing well between each addition.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the berries, then spread the mixture into the prepared pan. The batter will be thick.
  8. Sprinkle the cake with 1 tbsp of sugar, bake for 35 minutes until the top begins to golden and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  9. Cool, in the pan, at least 15 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!
*I used the janet and greta gluten-free flour mix, recipe below.
**If your gluten-free flour mix does not contain xantham gum, add 1/2 tsp instead of 1/4.

Janet and Greta's
Gluten-Free Flour Mix
The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski

  • 2 cups sorghum flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp xantham gum
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large ziploc bag, bowl or container.
  2. Blend well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My baby's getting tubes in his ears

Before I had kids, I thought ear infections were inevitable, a rite of passage for new parents. I was wrong. The boy has had just one ear infection about four months ago. My one year old baby on the other hand, got his first ear infection within a week of his brother and has spent the majority of the time since then with an ear infection or on antibiotics to treat one.
myringotomy and tympanostomy
After five rounds of antibiotics, a ridiculous number of trips to our family doctor and two trips to the ear, nose and throat specialist at Children's Hospital, my baby is scheduled for surgery. Minor surgery, but surgery none the less. He will be recieving a myringotomy and tympanostomy tubes, or simply, 'tubes in his ears'.

Although it was common practice in the past, recurring ear infections on their own are no longer considered adequate justification for putting tubes in a child's ears. As a mother, its hard for me to imagine that neither my sons constant pain and discomfort, nor his inability to function, learn and grow to his full capacity are reason enough to perform a minor surgery that would fully prevent further ear infections for at least a year. 

I'll admit I was apprehensive going into the hearing test, the doctor told me explicitly that if there was hearing loss then we would have sufficient justification for the surgery. Emotionally it was strange to find myself hoping that the baby would actually demonstrate some level of hearing loss.
cool dude
He did in fact exhibit approximately 30% hearing loss, which they were able to confirm was a result of fluid in the inner ear. Much to my relief, the hearing loss is temporary and should return to normal once the tubes are in place and the fluid has drained. I recognize there are risks with surgery and putting a child under general anaesthesia, but my boy deserves to enjoy his young life and we feel the risks are well worth it.

We have just over a month until the surgery, now all I can do is hope he can make it that long without another ear infection. Sadly, it may be more realistic to hope for only one round of antibiotics.

Did your children suffer from ear infections?
Did you heal them holistically or with antibiotics?
Did your child need tubes in their ears? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Saturday Sale at

One of my absolute favourite online shopping destinations is; their prices are comparable to my local drugstores and they offer free shipping, regardless how much you purchase.  They have tons of gluten-free products and with their Baby Club, you get special sale prices on baby products, including amazing sale prices on disposable diapers.


One of the products they carry, that I've been drooling over is the Zoku quick pop maker, which allows you to make fresh, healthy and delicious popscicles in a matter of minutes.  

This Saturday only, you can get a family grab bag that includes the Zoku Quick Pop Maker (Regular $69.99), Summer Infant Car Seat Shade (Currently $15.00), Badger Lightly Scented Sunscreen SPF 30 (Currently $15.99), Badger Balm After Sun Balm: Blue Tansy & Lavender (Regular $7.99), Vital Baby Free Flow Cup (Regular $3.99).

At a price of $69.99 for the entire grab bag, you're essentially buying the Zoku quick pop maker and getting everything else free! There is a limited number of grab bags available, so if you want one, make sure you buy early!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Nuts are NOT toys | a Momma Bear's plea

I believe in a mother’s instinct to protect her children; I belive that there are no limitations to the lengths a parent will go to ensure the safety of their child. Fortunately, for most of us, the moments when our Momma Bear must emerge are far and few between, however, when your child has a life-threatening allergy, the Momma Bear never gets a chance to hibernate.  When we discovered the boy was allergic to peanuts, we had to sort through out cupboards and reread the labels of products we’d been eating for years.

It’s difficult to decide where to draw the line with regard to the foods you allow your child to eat.  The allergist determined that the boy had no reaction to any other nuts, including tree nuts so we made the decision not to feed him, or keep in our home, any products that ‘may contain traces of peanuts’.  This is especially difficult for our family as many gluten-free products contain or are manufactured in facilities that process nuts. Fortuantely, as parents of an allergic child we are acutely aware of the food we buy and feed our children and our home is a location that we can control.

Public spaces on the other hand, can become a parent’s nightmare in a matter of moments.

Case and point, we were recently enjoying the summer weather at our local park with the boys; there is a fountain that drains down and around a small hill to a gate that traps the water, but can be released by the children. My boys, and almost all the other children, love to chase their ‘boats’ as they float down the river and open the gate.  We’ve seen ‘boats’ in a number of forms and on this particular day some older boys (probably around 7) were chasing leaves down the river.  Our boys were playing happily and the hubs and I were enjoying the peace and sunshine until suddenly the hubs noticed that the leaves had been replaced with nuts and shells.

We raced up to the boy and quickly explained to him that the other kids were playing with nuts and reminded him that he was very allergic.  We explained that we had to go home immediately because if he touched them, he might end up at the hospital. I felt awful cutting his playtime short so abruptly, and he was a upset for a few moments, but without doubt, keeping him safe is far more important than preventing a few tears of frustration.

As a parent, an aunt and a sister of individuals with life-threatening nut allergies, I know that I am hypersensitive and acutely aware of the presence of nuts in public places. For those of you who are not directly affected, its easy to forget that some people need not ingest their allergen in order to have an anaphylactic reaction. For my boy, touching a peanut butter sandwich crust resulted in two shots of epinephrine, a shot of steroids and a week of benadryl. I have a friend whose daughter had a reaction just from being in the vicinity of a peanut butter sandwich on a family outing.

If your child had a life-threatening allergy, how far would you go to keep him safe?

Nuts are a great source of nutrition for those that can ingest them and I wish that I could feed them to my children, but I can't.  If your child eats nuts, please take the time to teach them that nuts are not toys. If your children consume a snack that contains nuts in a public space, keep the snack localized and ensure you take a few moments and do a proper cleanup.  Simply washing hands, wiping tables, chairs or any other public items that may have been contaminated (even using just a baby wipe) can go a long way to keep an allergic child safe and healthy.

Please Momma Bear, won’t you help me protect my cubs?