Events

Tuesday

Gluten Free Garage 2017


Less than 2 weeks to go until this year's Gluten Free Garage


I went last year for the first time and quickly became a fan. The pop-up gluten-free event feels like a farmers market, hidden away in the city. 


What you can expect from this year's event


  • Discover local bakeries, restaurants, and retailers that cater to their gluten-free needs
  • Sample and purchase gluten-free food, beverages and related lifestyle products from a wide variety of vendors
  • Enjoy delicious gluten-free food prepared onsite by local chefs and caterers
  • Get information about celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and the gluten-free diet
  • Learn more about the gluten-free lifestyle from guest speakers
  • Grab a free tote bag for all their gluten-free goodies
  • Take home coupons for future purchases as well as samples of gluten-free products


Learn more about the history of Gluten Free Garage by reading my interview with founder, Ronnilyn Pustil.




GFG


Hope to see you at this year's event!


Monday

Interview With Gluten Free Garage's Ronnilyn Pustil & Contest

May 1st marks the beginning of Celiac Awareness Month. If you live in the greater Toronto area or are up for a drive, you need to check out Gluten Free Garage.

Although 2016 marks the event's fifth year, it will be my first time attending and I am super excited!


This event is sort of like a farmers market meets a pop-up shop. It brings together the gluten-free community for a great cause. Plus, you will have the opportunity to discover local vendors, sample goodies and listen to some amazing guest speakers.





I had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of Gluten Free Garage, RonniLyn Pustil. See below to find out how the event got its start, what you can expect to find, and more!




Interview




1. How did Gluten Free Garage get its start?

I started Gluten Free Garage in 2012, about three years after my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. By then we had gone through a lot of trial and error with different gluten-free products. What was out there was disappointing—think sawdust crackers, crumbly muffins, cardboard pizza, mushy pasta. If the only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life, why should people with celiac have to sacrifice taste or quality? I wanted my daughter to find the joy in food, rather than feeling deprived and sad about what she couldn’t eat. So I made it my mission to find gluten-free products that tasted good and were good for you. I scoured the city and its outskirts for fresh, delicious gluten-free food. I found quite a few small local businesses making yummy and healthier gluten-free food; many were vendors at farmers’ markets or food events. Whenever I brought something new home to try—whether it was a fresh loaf of gluten-free sourdough bread or savoury falafel balls or a new granola bar—there was excitement. I wanted to share them with other people who also had to eat gluten free. At first I thought about opening a retail store. But then, one sunny fall day I was at my neighbourhood farmers’ market at Wychwood Barns and the big garage-like doors were open; it was so bustling and lively and there was such a sense of community in that room. And that’s when the idea came to me to create a farmers’ market with a gluten-free twist, and to host it at the Barns. Hence the name, Gluten Free Garage.

2.      What can a first -time visitor to the event expect to encounter?
A lively food event with an astounding array of gluten-free products—from pasta to pastry to pierogies to popsicles! A first-timer might find it hard to believe that all the food at Gluten Free Garage are indeed gluten free! But it is, and everything is safe for people with celiac and gluten intolerance. Vendors will be sampling and selling their food, many will be preparing and cooking fresh food on site. There will be beer and cider tasting in the outdoor covered courtyard. And we have 5 dynamic guest speakers who will present on a variety of topics related to gluten-free living and eating.

2.      There will be several guest speakers, sharing their knowledge. Can you tell me a little about them?
We’ve got a group of four well-known and respected local nutritionists—Joy McCarthy, Meghan Telpher and Josh Gitalis, and Marni Wasserman—who will each give their take on gluten-free living and eating. They’re all vendors at GFG as well, so if you miss their talk you’ll still have a chance to interact with them. Ashley Wittig, co-owner of vegan and gluten-free Bunner’s Bakeshop (also a GFG vendor), will take a walk on the savoury side. And celiac advocate Jordan Middlebrook, aka King Gluten Free, will tell you why celiac disease doesn’t have to be a buzzkill.

3.      What makes Gluten Free Garage unique?
All the smiling faces! Many people are so excited and grateful for the delicious gluten-free finds at Gluten Free Garage. And just to be at a food event and be able to eat everything there. It’s a marketplace with a real community feel. 

4.      Which vendors are you most excited about?
How can I choose?! Of course, all the baked goods, because we have the best gluten-free bakeries participating. This will be the first time we have pierogies (Joe’s Gluten-Free Foods) and dumplings (Steambox Dumplings) at GFG. And the beer and cider tasting, which we introduced at our last event, will be bigger this year, with three beers, three apple ciders and one pear cider. 
5.      What do you want people to know about Celiac disease?
That it’s real and the only treatment for it is a strict gluten-free diet for life. 
 6.      Celiac awareness has come a long way thanks to wonderful people like you. What do you hope to see happen in terms of education and awareness?
 I hope that as more education and awareness is out there, more people with symptoms of celiac disease will get tested. About 350,000 people in Canada have celiac disease but don’t know it. And as long as they are still eating gluten, they are causing damage to their bodies in myriad ways.          
7.      Sometimes our day to day can get a little hectic and we need a meal in a hurry. What is your favourite gluten-free recipe to prepare when you’re in a time crunch?
 Pasta with whatever vegetables and protein I have in the fridge and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan. I always have a few boxes of Italpasta in the pantry. Salads are easy to whip up and are always fresh. We love a good Nicoise salad and we usually have all the ingredients on hand.

8.      Do you have any favourite gluten-free products?
Yes, we all have our own favourites from different places. Many of them will be at Gluten Free Garage. 

9.      Finally, what advice can you share for someone who is just starting out on the gluten-free diet?
Learn to cook if you don’t already. Know what to look for on ingredient labels. Ask questions. When in doubt, don’t eat it. And don’t settle for anything less than delicious. 

When

Sunday, May 1, 2016  (10 am to 4 pm)


Where

Artscape Wychwood Barns (in the Covered Street Barn)

601 Christie Street (just south of St. Clair), Toronto


Ticket info

$10 / free for kids 12 and under

Free GFG tote bags for the first 1,000 people!


Giveaway Time!!!

Enter below to score a free pair of tickets to attend Gluten Free Garage.






You can connect with Gluten Free Garage on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook




Saturday

Minute Rice Event and Giveaway!




Minute Rice held an event at the George Brown College Chef School recently. I was able to attend via webcam (how cool is that?) as I could not make it down to the school that evening. Minute Rice sent me a couple of boxes of their 100% Natural Instant Rice to cook with at home. Rice is a staple in my pantry and I love it, so I have been happily exploring new recipes.


The event was hosted by Chef John Higgins. You may recognize that name! Not only is Chef Higgins a Judge on Chopped Canada, he has also cooked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace, heads of state in Washington and various celebrities. He's a pretty big deal!


According to  Norma D’Onofrio, Senior Brand Manager, Minute Rice, instant rice is as nutritious as long cook rice. Instant rice is long grain rice that is simply pre-cooked, and then dried, in order to significantly cut down on the cooking time required by consumers. Did you know that both varieties of Minute Rice are GMO-free?! 

“Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf" was the first recipe demonstrated by Chef Higgins. It's very easy to make and only takes 10 minutes to prepare for the oven. The prep for this dish can be done the day before, leaving you with just the rice to cook the day of. To assemble the dish, you can use either a terrine mold or a loaf pan. I love recipes where you can prep in advance and enjoy a quick meal when needed, minus the hassle of course.



This was followed by "Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding with Chocolate Crunchies". Watching this recipe being prepared really captivated me. Who knew that you could be so creative with rice?! Chef Higgins mentioned that some people enjoy their Rice Pudding wet, while others prefer it dry. It's really up to you.


Chef Higgins said that food is meant to be enjoyed by family and friends. I couldn't agree more! So hurry and grab yourself a $1.00 off coupon for Minute Rice, while supplies last.

Attending the event via webcam allowed me to really focus on what Chef Higgins was doing, as well as take some helpful notes. Check out some helpful tips for cooking rice below.



Top 10 Rice Cooking Tips from Chef John Higgins, Director, George Brown Chef School
Boil in broth: When boiling rice, substitute water for broth to add flavour to the rice itself and your dish. Chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable stock are excellent choices. Low sodium broths add a punch of flavour without the added salt.
Try coconut: Cook rice in coconut milk for a mildly sweet flavoured rice which pairs well with curry dishes and other spicy recipes. Coconut flavoured rice with fresh slices of mango or your kids’ favourite fruit can make a fun, healthy dessert option.
Think flavour: Add spices to the rice’s cooking liquid for an aromatic and flavourful base to your dish. Star Anise, cilantro and turmeric are good choices, with bold, robust flavours.
Season early on: Don’t leave your seasoning until the end. Introduce the flavours of your dish early on. For maximum flavour, add the herbs or spices your recipe calls for into the rice’s cooking water.
Add veggies: Enhance your rice dish by adding frozen vegetables. Rather than cooking the vegetables separately, though, condense your cooking time by adding them to boiling water before you begin cooking the rice. Using pre-cut, frozen vegetables is more convenient than cutting fresh vegetables (while still being nutritious), especially when you are pressed for time.
Sweeten with fruit: Add dried fruit – such as craisins, raisins, dried blueberries and currents – to your cooking water to draw out the sweet fruit flavours which will infuse your rice with a savoury taste the whole family will enjoy.
Try rice for breakfast: Instant rice in particular is quick and easy, making it a convenient and nutritious family option. Add almond or soy milk, or your kids’ favourite flavoured milk, as well as dried fruits or nuts for a complete, oatmeal-like breakfast dish which can be served hot or cold. Prepare the rice the night before to save time in the morning.
Steep your rice: Infuse the rice with your favourite flavour of tea for a fragrant, subtle gourmet taste. Steep a pot of tea and use the liquid to cook your rice instead of using plain water. For those less adventurous, start with a more simple flavour such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile tea. For an economical option, use the tea bag left over from your morning cup of tea.
Add zing with zest: For a zesty citrus spin on your rice dish, grate lemon, lime or orange zest into the rice’s cooking water as it’s boiling. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fruit with warm, soapy water before grating the zest into the water. For a more gourmet taste sensation, try a combination of citrus fruits in one rice dish.
Cut cooking time: Risotto is a wonderful meal or side dish option enjoyed by all ages, but it takes time to make.  Using instant rice in a risotto dish can cut in half the time it takes to make traditional risotto.
Visit here to discover amazing recipes on the Minute Rice website.



Enter below for an opportunity to win a case of 12 boxes of Minute Rice® 100% Natural Instant Rice ($60 value)











Thursday

Food Allergy And Celiac Convention

Looking for a Celiac safe, vacation destination? Want variety and amazing flavour at every meal? Walt Disney World is where its at. I mean it. When it comes to safe Gluten Free dining, Disney does it best. I can say so from personal experience!



This November brings us the Food Allergy and Celiac Convention at Disney. I am happy to share that I am a member of the blogger street team for this great event. Being part of the team means that I will be sharing information related to both the event itself and all things Disney gluten free.






The event will be hosted on Disney property at the Coronado Springs Resort on November 22nd 2014. 


Event Details



  • Expo Area (featuring vendors, sponsors & non-profit organizations)
  • Welcome Breakfast (ticketed event for guests)
  • Non-dairy Ice Cream Buffet (ticketed event for guests)
  • Kids Corner
  • Speakers, panels, & workshops focusing on all aspects of celiac disease & food allergies
  • Culinary demonstrations, featuring Disney chefs
  • 15 Minutes of Fame Stage where vendors & sponsors can highlight their unique brands & products
  • Raffle baskets & giveaways (before & during the event weekend)
  • Pre-event recipe booklets where vendors & sponsors can highlight their unique brands and products with recipes
  • And more!

Tickets


You can purchase tickets here

Adult tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door*

Kids' tickets are $5 in advance as well as at the door*

*Door tickets will only be available, if there are any left for purchase


Follow event updates via Facebook and Twitter:  


The proceeds from ticket sales will go to food allergy & non-profit organizations.




***This event is not affiliated with the Walt Disney company***


Sunday

Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni Launch & Giveaway

Recently, I attended an exclusive Gluten Free Pasta event which was held at George Brown College and sponsored by Catellli. The event celebrated the launch of Catelli's newest cut of gluten free pasta - Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni.


(Photo courtesy of Catelli)

To start the evening, we were treated to Catelli Gluten Free macaroni samples with pesto, olive oil and tomato sauce. We also noshed on grilled vegetables and cheese. The pasta dishes from left to right were cooked for 3 minutes, 5 minutes and 7 minutes. This gave us an idea of what kind of texture to expect from specific cook times. It also allowed us to explore how long we personally prefer our pasta to be cooked for. 

(Photo courtesy of Catelli)

Catelli Gluten Free pasta is produced in a dedicated Gluten Free facility. It is also certified by the Canadian Celiac Association Gluten Free Certification Program and is GMO free! This is one all around fantastic product line. I have been a fan since I first reviewed the line here.

Our host for the evening was, Director of George Brown Chef School, Chef John Higgins.

(Photo courtesy of Catelli)

 Chef Higgins is a judge on the Food Network's Chopped Canada and former personal chef for the Queen Mother. He was very engaging and pretty darn funny! I appreciated the time he took to answer questions and his thorough answers. Chef Higgins is a fantastic teacher! 

(Photo courtesy of Catelli)
Throughout the evening he provided us with wonderful pasta tips. You can see some of his advice below.


* Pasta should be cooked according to the directions on the pasta box. For some recipes that require the pasta to be cooked in sauce following boiling, however, an al dente consistency is preferred. For such recipes, cut one to two minutes off the cooking time on the package.

* When cooking pasta, use a large pot. You will need one quart of water to approximately 100 grams of pasta.  Using a large pot will give the pasta room to boil and not stick together.

* Over-seasoning the water with salt – bringing it almost to the taste of the sea – will substantially enhance the flavour profile of the dish. As a rule of thumb, use 10 grams of salt for one litre of water and 100 grams of pasta.

* Never add oil to the water when cooking pasta.  It does not keep it from sticking together.  In fact, the oil creates a coating that prevents the sauce from adhering to the pasta.  

* Always stir the pasta for about 45 seconds after adding it to boiling water.  Then, stir occasionally as the cooking process continues, especially during the first three minutes, as that’s when the pasta can stick together.

* Never rinse pasta after cooking, as it’s important to retain the starch to enable the sauce to coat. Instead, spread it evenly on a baking tray to cool.

* When making a pasta dish, think about the harmony of taste, texture and balance between noodle and sauce. Thin pasta strips, for example, work best with a classic tomato, seafood or pesto sauce. Thicker pasta cuts, such as fettuccine, are wonderful for a cheese or cream-based sauce. Filled pasta is ideal with a light tomato broth or cream sauce.


(Photo courtesy of Catelli)

With the guidance of Chef Higgins and his team, we each prepared the Ginger Edamame Macaroni Salad recipe below. If you are looking for a vibrant pasta salad, this one is a keeper! It's fresh, filling and full of flavour. I love this dish and cannot say enough positive things about it. Give it a try and let me know what YOU think.


Ginger Edamame Macaroni Salad
 Prep Time: 20 min    
Cooking Time: 5 - 6 min                  
Servings: 8
 Ingredients:
1 pkg (340 g) CATELLI® Gluten Free Macaroni
2 cups (500 mL) frozen edamame
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) each granulated sugar and water
4 tsp (20 mL) gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
1 cup (250 mL) each diced red pepper and cucumber
1 cup (250 mL) each shredded Napa or Chinese cabbage and carrot
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onions
 1.         Cook macaroni according for 3 to 3½ minutes. Drain in colander, then place pasta on a flat tray to cool. Once cooled, sprinkle with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of olive oil and mix gently with fingers.
 2.     Blanche edamame in 2 cups (500 mL) of salted water for about 2 minutes and drain.

 3.         Meanwhile, whisk vinegar with sugar, water, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper until sugar is dissolved; whisk in oil. Add cooked edamame to mixture.         

 4.    Toss macaroni and edamame mixture with red pepper, cucumber, cabbage, carrot and green onion to combine. Serve immediately.  


Grab yourself a  coupon  for $1.00 off the purchase of any Catelli Gluten Free pasta product and get cooking. 


*** CONTEST ALERT ***

Catelli was kind enough to offer one of my readers a chance to win a one year supply of Catelli Gluten Free Macaroni. This Give away is open to residents of Canada only. Enter below, through Rafflecopter.

Good Luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tuesday

Healthy Kids Community Challenge

Eating Healthy is important for everyone, but it can be a challenge. As a Celiac I am a Gluten detective who is constantly scrutinizing labels to make sure that food is safe for myself to consume. In doing so I have noticed how junk food saturated the Gluten Free market is. That being said, extra effort is involved to maintain a healthy Gluten Free lifestyle for kids and adults. 

The Province of Ontario has launched an exciting new program intended to teach kids lifelong healthy habits. It's called The Healthy Kids Community Challenge. Local communities can submit applications to the province of Ontario for funding and other tools that would improve healthy food choices, increase activity levels and encourage appropriate amounts of sleep for children and youth. Building partnerships with schools, public, private and non profit sectors - to promote healthy weights for kids is a key part of the challenge.





Apply by March 14th 2014 to be part of the up to 30 communities that will be chosen to participate. If your community is selected, the province will offer resources to champion the programs success. Selected communities will be eligible for up to 1.5 million over four years in funding to develop and build on community based platforms promoting healthy living. 

Activities for the challenge can include  after school cooking clubs with dietitians, healthy breakfast clubs for children living in poverty, and walking school bus initiatives. Municipal partners can include schools, recreation centers, parents, private businesses, health care providers and community organizations servicing children and youth.  

To be a part of the challenge, communities must have a minimum population of 10,000 and Maximum population of 200,000 people. While no minimum population is required for aboriginal communities, they must have a maximum population of 200,000 people.

If you are interested in championing this challenge with your community, please contact your local Mayors' or CAO/City Manager's offices as part of the process to submit an application. 


For more information about the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, please visit the links below. 





Saturday

Gluten Free Expo Toronto 2012


Awesome swag bag 
Last Sunday, September 30th I attended the Gluten Free Expo in Toronto with my husband and our three year old son. I was super excited for this event and I hope to see another one next year. While it was a great experience, there were definitely a few hiccups.  I don't want to focus too much on the negative as I'm sure that this was a monstrous event to put together and the packed to the walls turn out can only mean good things.


Lets start with the positives

  • Amazing turn out  - I was seriously surprised by how many people turned up for the event. Hopefully this kind of enthusiasm will lead to more awareness and more variety on the store shelves.

  • Awesome variety of vendors - There were the known favourites such as Kinnikinnick, Udis, and Pamelas. And there were so many companies that I had never heard of until I tried a sample or spoke to them at their booths. The vendors ranged from food companies and catering to restaurants and magazines. There was also a vendor representing the Chicago Centre for Celiac Disease! Awesome possum.
  • great items available for purchase - Wow. Just wow. I probably could have purchased several weeks worth of groceries here. Some vendors had  pretty great deals as well. 
  • Everyone was in good spirits - This says it all I think
  • My little guy managed the 2 hours we were there without a melt down! Woohoo! He also enjoyed all of the yummy Gluten Free samples that he tried.
  • Loads of yummy samples. Seriously yummy  And nothing beats a sample of something to encourage a purchase
    Gluten Free Samples and Coupons
  • Easy to gain entrance with pre-purchased tickets - That itself was a great option! Hope to see this again.


    Jax and Myself
  • Had the opportunity to meet Jax! Had to save the best for last on my list of positives. She is truly a Gluten Free inspiration and I recommend having a regular peak at her website Gluten Free Ontario




Alright, on to the not so fun stuff


  • We arrived at 9:50 am and waited a good ten minutes to turn into the parking lot. We entered the venue at about 10:10am and it was packed. By 11:30 it was so crowded that vendors were hard to gain access to. Just walking through the crowd was tough. It seemed like there was not enough space for people to line up at the vendors without causing a blockage to the people who just wanted to pass by. 

  • Paid $9.00 for parking. I had no idea until we got there that parking would not be free. My fault for not looking into it but I figured $18 on 2 tickets would qualify for free parking or at least some sort of a discount for attending the expo.

  • When we left it was very chaotic as there is only one exit from the parking lot. We sat in a lineup of cars for 35 minutes before a second ticket booth was opened and someone came out to direct the flow of vehicles. My dad works by the Toronto Airport and apparently this is a common logistics issue at this  particular venue. All in all, I'm happy nobody freaked out and eventually (35 minutes later) traffic got flowing at a somewhat fair pace. 
  • No time to really get to know vendors or learn about the products. We ended up leaving when things got to the point of not being able to get to the booths and see what products were there. Although we strolled by most tables, there were some like the Chicago Center for Celiac Disease where I could only squeeze in enough to snag a pamphlet. Really wish I could have been able to have a chat with them. Everything just felt so rushed.

  • I  heard that a few vendors were eating non GF foods at their booths. Thats a big no no. Also, I feel as though any vendor that had GF oats in a product should have had a disclaimer saying so as many Celiacs, including myself get ill from even Gluten Free oats. 




Would I attend a future event?

Hubby & little man in parking lot
Yes, but I would attend with a different frame of mind. Perhaps taking turns navigating the Expo with hubby. This way one of us can keep the little man happy and out of the crowds. It was too difficult to navigate a stroller through the tight space and much too hard for my little guy to walk without getting tripped over.

Next time I will be expecting some big crowds. I will also buy products as I visit the booths instead of attempting to go back at the end of our rounds.


NEW products that caught my eye at the Gluten Free Expo

 At $4.00 they come already made and you just pop em in the oven. Talk about convenient  I have made my own version of these cheese buns for several years and Forno Mina is so authentic. Nothing compares to the airiness and texture  they are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Boring Porridge
I was skeptical at first but HOLY MOLY was it great. Add this to Vanilla yogurt and bam, you have a healthy and easy to make snack. I am such a fan now will have to order this online for sure. Shipping across Canada is only $2.00! 











Thursday

Gluten Free Expo Toronto


Come out to the Gluten Free Expo in Toronto Septemeber 30th! There will be vendors, coupons, samples and more!


Here are the event details :
Gluten Free Expo - TORONTO
September 30, 2012
10am - 5pm
655 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON (DoubleTree by Hilton)
Tickets are $12 at the door or save money by purchasing online for $9 each.


Wednesday

Gluten Free at the Ball Game

Photo Credit: Geoff Baker; The Seattle Times


Sometimes going to a sporting event is like choosing entertainment over hunger. There is always the option to pack some small snacks, but this often turns into an " I wish I could eat something here" moment. If you are a Seattle Mariners fan, this IS your moment - Friday August 26th. There will be a select seating area, close to a Gluten Free Concession! 

The Gluten Intolerance Group (advocates in the GF  community) will be on hand during the festivities. This should help ensure it will be a Gluten Free Success!

For more detailed information please view this article Mariners Offer Benefit for Gluten-Free Fans

To find out more about ordering Gluten Free tickets please visit Gluten-Free Awareness Night


I really hope to see the Toronto Blue Jays offer this special event in the future. Perhap's an e-mail to them is in order ;)

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