Photo by Musashi Ono
By Reiko Mackenzie
From Housewife to Gluten-free Foodie
Reiko Mackenzie is the ‘real housewife’ (was on the first season of Real Housewives of Vancouver) icon of fashion/fitness/foodie…..oh and throw in a Ferrari to add to the fun. A newly single mom of two young girls, Reiko has made it her passion to inspire women and young girls to stay healthy, get fit, and be fierce. This ninja girl wants to share her secrets of healthy living which include samurai sword training, getting creative in the kitchen and going gluten-free with her family. “You can be healthy and have fun doing it,” says Reiko. As a mommy, Reiko feels it is the utmost importance to lead by example. Fitness; eating healthy; promoting self-confidence through accepting one’s mistakes; learning from them, and continuous perseverance in achieving goals are all important. In other words, she says, “Don’t give up!”
Why Reiko Cooks Gluten-Free Food
I only learned of “gluten” about three years ago when a nutritionist friend could not stop talking about how she was converting to meat-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free! I thought….WOW….how challenging…and for what? Now I don’t want to get into the meat and dairy quite yet…..but gluten, what was gluten? Well, she explained to me, “It is exactly what it sounds like, Reiko. Glue.” I was dumbfounded. Really? We have been eating glue? Gluten, yes, acts like glue in the digestive system, preventing all of those wonderful nutrients from getting into our bodies. This ‘gluten’ is a protein found in wheat, the binding agent that keeps wheat based foods together.
Gluten doesn’t sound too great, does it? Cutting out gluten from somebody’s diet sounded like a healthy choice. Well, my curiousity and concern did not stop there. I thought about the reactions and side affects from eating gluten? Could gluten be affecting me? I started to take notice about things that were already happening to my body for awhile and writing down the foods that would cause these affects. I had noticed that I would get itchy skin patches and a dry scalp when I ate certain foods, as well as bloating and digestive discomfort. So the next step was to test it out: stop eating wheat-based foods that contain gluten. I can tell you that I noticed a lot more than just the clearing up of itchy scalp, dry itchy skin patches and the clearing up of bloat and gas. I felt much more energetic and alive! So this gluten-free gig had more to it! I actually felt revived into a new world of clarity and enhanced physical performance in my daily life. Wow. Now that was beneficial.
In light of this amazing new discovery, I had decided to get a food sensitivity report done on myself and my children. Turns out my older daughter has an allergy to gluten. This explained all the cramping and tummy aches she had been experiencing. This turned into a life long journey of creative meal preparation and baking. Hence my inspiration to create new and exciting gluten-free recipes at home and to share with others.
It still is a journey for myself and my family. My daughters are young so they want to eat what they want not realizing what the repercussions will be. I’m sure this is a challenge for many mothers! At least they love my gluten-free focaccia bread!!
Great for mini sandwiches or as a dipping bread, this gluten-free fave is delectable all year round. My daughter loves this in her school lunch as a turkey and cheese sandwich!
Makes 4 sandwiches or dipping bread for 6-8 people. Ready in 1 hour!
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 tsp golden sugar
- 3/4 cup warm water
- rice flour for dusting
- 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour*
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 2 tsp xantham gum
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tsp oregano and/or chopped rosemary
- 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 200*F. Grease an 8×8 grey pan and dust with rice flour. In a small bowl mix together the yeast, sugar and water and set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl sift the garbanzo bean flour, rice flour, potato starch, xantham gum, garlic powder, onion powder and sea salt.
3. Add the eggs, olive oil, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and blend on low speed until crumbly and combined. Then add the yeast mixture and blend on low until combined. Dough will be sticky in nature.
4. Transfer dough to the flour dusted 8×8 pan. Spread evenly with a spatula. Cover with aluminum foil and place in 200*F oven to let rise for 20 minutes.
5. Remove pan from the oven and preheat oven to 400*F. Remove foil and spray dough with olive oil spray. Then sprinkle sea salt and oregano/rosemary on top. Place in 400*F oven for 18 minutes or until top is golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and let pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool on the wire rack. Slice and serve warm or let cool and make great sandwiches!!
*I often substitute rice flour with sorghum flour. Depends what I have on hand at the time. They both work great!