Eating With Friends: Layered Salad

As all celiacs can understand, I get nervous letting other people cook for me. I have a few close friends and family members that have been there with me since day 1 and know what precautions to take and what questions to ask to ensure a safe meal, but this past weekend we were invited over to a friends that we haven’t seen in a long time with his partner that we’d never met.

I didn’t want to be “that guy” and cause too much of a fuss (but as we know from my recent experience, not causing a fuss can lead to bad times). My husband was the one making the plans so I just asked him to casually mention, “Kelly has celiac disease so she’ll bring something she can eat too.” I try to mention this ahead of time to let them know of my dietary needs, but also to let them know they don’t need to worry about it – I’ll bring something safe so we can have a good time and not worry about the food side of it.

Turns out our friend’s partner is gluten intolerant so they’re used to cooking gluten-free. B even mentioned he makes a killer gluten-free beer battered fish…

Of course, this sends off all sorts of alarms for me. Gluten-intolerant can mean a lot of different things to different people. I thought it was a BBQ and I was kind of hoping to just bring something along and eat it safely without anyone noticing, but when people go out of their way to cook something special for me, I feel bad passing it up. (I know, I know, it’s my guts, but it’s still hard for me to be “that guy”.)

Luckily, it all worked out great! Not only was B’s partner gluten intolerant but her sister also has celiac disease, so they were more than aware of the difference. They are also good friends with the owner of the local gluten-free bakery who is also celiac, and they got the fish batter and some treats for dessert from there. The fish was amazing and best of all, I didn’t get sick and I didn’t have to be “that guy”. I did mention something to our friends about it being out of my comfort zone to eat at someone else’s house and they were more than willing to answer my questions and put me at ease. The next day our friend even texted my husband to ask how I was feeling. How sweet!

I did end up bringing something along for dinner. Something that would be a full meal for me if I didn’t feel safe, but that would also be of interest to everyone else. For me, that means my Mom’s good ol’ Layered Salad. I have no idea where this recipe came from but it has always been a hit throughout my life at potlucks and summer BBQs. And it was a hit again this time – our friends asked to keep the leftovers. Of course I didn’t mind. I made 2.


As always, don’t feel forced to stick to the recipe. I don’t use exact measurements anymore but can just eyeball it based on the size of dish I end up using. But for the sake of sharing, here’s a recipe.

Layered Salad

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 – 1/2 red onion, diced finely
1/2 – 1 cup Miracle Whip (It has to be Miracle Whip. It just does. Apparently you can mix mayo with sugar, but that’s just not right, it has to be Miracle Whip.)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
2-4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
dash of paprika to finish it all off

Choose a large tupperware or serving dish of your choice. It could be a rectangle baking dish, a trifle bowl – bonus points if you can see all the layers – or like I did, I used a large tupperware so that it was easy to transport and leave behind the leftovers without worrying about getting the dish back.


Layer a thicker/larger portion of lettuce on the bottom, then layer the peppers, onions, and frozen peas. No need to defrost the peas, this salad is better after it sits so the peas will be defrosted by the time you eat it.


Spoon dollops of Miracle Whip over the salad and gently spread it out until it covers the entire salad with a thin layer. This is kind of like icing a cake where you need to use enough Miracle Whip that it spreads across without picking up the ingredients from below. If your salad is longer/flatter you may need more dressing then if it is short/deep.



Once the Miracle Whip is spread across, sprinkle the cheese and bacon over top. Lay out the sliced eggs, again the number of eggs will be determined by the size of your dish, and sprinkle with paprika. Let the salad sit for a few hours in the fridge before serving. With this salad lots of leftovers isn’t a bad thing because it stays good in the fridge for a few days.

The first scoop is always the hardest to get out – use a sturdy spoon and dig down deep and get all the veggies. Because as my brother pointed out: “Without the lettuce, it’s just dip”. 😉



Zucchini Noodles With Beef and Veggie Bolognese

I made this last night and enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it right away. It was easy to make and is a great way to use up all the veggies in the fridge. It’s hard to write out a recipe because this could really be anything. Any ground meat. Any chopped veggies. Add a can of crushed tomatoes and simmer. Simple. Delicious.


But, for the sake of blogging, I’ll write a recipe. 😉

Zucchini Noodles with Beef & Veggie Bolognese

1-2 zucchini, cut into noodles with a julienne peeler or spiralizer
1lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
4-6 mushrooms, diced
2 carrots, diced
handful of broccoli heads, chopped
more zucchini, diced (I peeled the outside of the zucchini and then when it got seedier I stopped, I then chopped up the center bit and added it to the sauce)
Or any other vegetables (spinach, peppers, cauliflower….)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Using a julienne peeler make noodles from the zucchini, peeling down to the IMG_1650seedy inside, then rotating around the zucchini until you end up with a “core” of seeds from the centre. Dice the inside bits and set aside.

When all the other veggies are diced, set a large frying pan on medium-high heat and brown the ground beef. Drain the extra fat. Add the carrots and onions (or any other harder veggies that take longer to cook). After a few minutes, add the mushrooms and broccoli, followed by the zucchini. (Harder veggies to softer veggies so that everything is done cooking at the same time.) Add garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_1652When all the veggies are cooked down and softened, add the crushed tomatoes. Add water to the sauce until it’s smooth and saucy. I ended up adding about 1/2 cup of water. Simmer.

When the sauce is simmering, pre-heat a large frying pan and add 1-2 tsp canola oil. Stir-fry the zucchini noodles until they soften up and become more noodle-like.

Serve the beef and veggie bolognese on the zucchini noodles. Add parmesan cheese if that makes you happy.

And that makes me happy.


Baby Food Diet

Like most new moms, I have a few pounds to lose. I didn’t gain an inappropriate amount of weight when I was pregnant, and honestly, a few months after M was born I was feeling pretty good about my new mom body. I was going to stroller fit twice a week and eating well to fuel the small amount of milk I was able to produce for my son.

Then I stopped breast feeding. And I put on more pounds then I did when I was pregnant.

I know exactly what was to blame.

  1. Being able to drink alcohol again after 12+ months. Perhaps a little too much alcohol during our summer vacations… and July was pretty much an extended vacation for me with no job to go back to.
  2. Bad habits developed when pregnant and breast feeding. I lost a ton of weight pre-diagnosis so I gave myself a licence to put the pounds back on. Because of my restricted diet I allowed myself a splurge or two, because I could. But that continued when it shouldn’t. I no longer have an excuse to eat what I want (I’m not talking a cookie or two, I’m talking eating an entire container of gluten-free cookies and a bag of chips one night when I was pregnant… ok, maybe more then once). I’m not fuelling another human being anymore. Just myself. And I need to make better choices.

So, I’m going on a diet. What I’m calling, the Baby Food Diet.


My baby eats healthier than me? Green beans, sweet potatoes and zucchini.

Wait. I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not going to follow the ridiculous
celebrity diet craze and eat pureed baby food.

My son is eating solid foods now. And more then anything, he wants what you’re having. And I’ve caught myself, holding M in one arm, the other arm deep in a bag of potato chips (my number 1 pregnancy weakness and
hard to break habit), and saying to my son, “No baboo, chips aren’t for babies. They aren’t good for you.”

And it hit me. If it’s not good for my son, it’s not good for me. So that’s my new diet strategy. WWME. What Would M Eat?


Veggie scramble with all the veggies I could find in my fridge. A slice of Kinnikinnick multigrain bread on the side.

I’m busy prepping homemade baby food. I’m choosing healthy new foods for my boy to expand his palette. We’re doing a mix of purees and baby led weaning so I make purees and small easy to chew chunks that he can feed himself. He gets distracted easily so this dual method works to keep him entertained and get in the calories my low weight, reflux baby needs. And I am again looking at his food and thinking, “My son eats better than me.”

So I’m making changes. I’m cutting back on the amount of wine I drink – empty calories. I’m back to prepping veggies for easy to grab lunches and snacks. I’m adding as many chopped veggies to my breakfast scrambles as I can find in my fridge. And I’m adding in some exercise every day, even if it’s only the 7-minute workout from the app I downloaded. How can I possibly say to myself that I don’t have 7 minutes? I can make 7 minutes.

I need to do this. Not just for my waist line, but to keep up with my growing, moving, standing and soon to be walking, boy. I want to be a good example, in my eating, activity and attitude.