Oakville - Voila Gluten Free Bakeree

Imagine a place where you can browse the shelves and choose from pizza, samosas, eclairs, muffins, cupcakes, bagels, buns, bread, tarts, brownies, Nanaimo bars and tons more...

Sounds like a dream, right?

Have I made you think back to your gluten-filled days?

This is a reality once again.

Voila! Gluten Free Bakeree
22 Lakeshore West, Unit 6
Oakville, Ontario
L6K 1C5
(289) 837-0110

At Voila! Gluten Free Bakeree, nothing is impossible.  Everything is gluten-free and fresh!  And more importantly... you don't have to spend hours of your time reading ingredient lists and trying to figure out what's safe or not.  Bonus - many items are also dairy-free and/or vegan!

Small warning - they do use pure, uncontaminated (gluten-free) oats in some of the products.  If you are sensitive to even gluten-free oats, just make sure you read the ingredients.  If you have any questions, their amazing staff is more than willing to help you make the right decision.

I was lucky enough to get my birthday cake at Voila! this year.  mmm delicious custom-made gluten-free cake with no chance of cross-contamination!  Never thought I'd see the day!

Voila! - Birthday Cake
Here are some pictures I snapped on my recent visit... Enjoy!

Voila! - GF display

Voila! - GF display

Voila! - GF breads, bagels, buns and more!

Voila! - GF tarts

Voila! - GF muffins

Voila! - GF Eclairs (dairy-free too)

Voila! - GF cupcakes

Voila! - GF carrot cake
Don't forget to stop in on Fridays - it's their Pizza Day!  You may be lucky enough to grab a leftover pizza on a Saturday but why take the risk? Go on Friday!

Voila! - GF pizza

I wish I lived closer... actually... maybe it's a good thing I don't.  It's nice to have a treat every now and then but I don't think my waistline would appreciate brownies and cake every day :)


Oakville - Gluten-Free Shopping Spree

There is a Gluten-Free Shopping Spree with dozens of vendors where you can sample and purchase gluten-free products coming up on Tuesday, October 25 between 7pm and 9pm.

Located at CAW 707 Galaxy Hall, 475 North Service Road East in Oakville.

Big thanks to Brent from Gluten-Free-Grocery.com for sharing this information with us.  He will also be at the event so stop in and say hi!

More information on poster below.

Gluten-Free M&M Meat Shops

We're in the big leagues, people!

I've heard from a few people that M&M Meat Shops has a range of gluten-free products.  I decided to email the company to see what kinds of options were available.

To my surprise, their current list of gluten-free products includes 195 products!

The options include meats, veggies, potatoes, desserts and more.

(This is a PDF file and you must have Adobe Reader to view it)
 This list is current as of September 9, 2011.  Please review all packages prior to purchasing since ingredients may change.

The gluten-free list is also available at M&M Meat Shops retail locations - there are over 200 locations in Ontario.

To be honest, up until about a year ago I thought all they sold was meat because, well, meat is in the name after all.  I will soon have to venture to M&M Meat Shops to check out the gluten-free vegetarian options for myself.

Below is the email response from the Consumer Affairs Coordinator, Carole. 

Thank you for taking the time to call us at M&M Meat Shops Ltd.  It is always a pleasure to hear from our customers.

Customers with dietary restrictions, especially related to food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, represent a growing portion of our customer base. In order to serve these customers better, we realize that accurate information on all ingredients in our food products, beyond the standard label declaration, is needed. With this in mind, we have requested of all our suppliers to search their ingredients for any sources of the eleven food ingredients commonly known to cause allergic reactions or sensitivities.  The eleven food ingredients are peanuts, tree nuts, shrimp/shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, MSG, sulphites, gluten/wheat, sesame and soy.  Their individual responses have been compiled into our Product Information Manual.  As well, if the manufacturer identifies a significant risk of cross contamination with one of these ingredients, it is identified as present in our listing for that M&M product.

A copy of this Product Information Manual is available behind the counter of every M&M Meat Shops' store.  It lists presence/absence (as identified by the manufacturer of the food) of the eleven protein ingredients that commonly cause allergic reactions.  Gluten/wheat is included in this listing.  Therefore, the Product Consultants at any store will be able to check for the presence of gluten/wheat in any product that is of interest to you either over the phone, or in person.

Our stores also have access to a searchable nutrition and allergen database for all our products.  Product Consultants are able to provide you with a printed list of our products without certain allergenic ingredients such as gluten/wheat.  In a recent search, approximately 195 of our 524 products do not contain gluten/wheat.  This list can also be generated at your local M&M Meat Shop stores and from our website.  For your convenience, I have attached a copy of the list of our products that do not contain gluten/wheat.

In addition, our web site provides the nutritional information and individual allergen information for our more than 400 products at www.mmmeatshops.com, although complete ingredient listings are not available. 

I hope you will find the above information useful.   Thank you for shopping the M&M way.


M&M Meat Shops Ltd.

Carole Mozuraitis
Consumer Affairs Coordinator
Technical Services Department

M&M Meat Shops gets an A+ for customer service.


Supplements for Digestive Issues that Persist

It's time to put some of my skills to the test.

Having worked in a health food store for nearly two years, taking numerous nutrition-related courses and living with Celiac Disease for over five years, I know a thing or two about how the digestive system works.

I feel (somewhat) qualified to write a post on natural supplements that may be beneficial for those who are on a gluten-free diet but still have digestive issues, like bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea or constipation.  The suggestions may also benefit others who do not have Celiac Disease but suffer from the symptoms mentioned.

Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor (obviously) and any recommendations mentioned should be discussed with your doctor prior to use.  Any mention of a specific brand was labelled gluten-free at the time of writing but ingredients can change.  Please check all labels.

It can sometimes take months or even years for a person with Celiac Disease to completely repair the small intestine and feel 100% again. Even so, digestive problems can linger.

These are some alternatives to harsh prescription medications that your doctor may suggest.


Essentially, probiotics mean "good life." Pro = Good. Biotic = Life.

Your natural gut flora can become out of whack from numerous factors, including the use of antibiotics, too much sugar in the diet, stomach virus, food poisoning and prescription medications.

Bacteria Probiotic

I'm sure you've heard of acidophilus before.  That's just one strain of the beneficial bacteria available as a supplement for your intestinal tract. Regular yogurt has a small amount of beneficial bacteria but the truth is, most yogurt does not have a sufficient amount of probiotics to have much benefit.  You can get probiotics in capsules and powder at much high doses.

One of my favourite probiotics is New Roots Acidophilus Ultra, pictured to the right.  It contains 11 different strains and 11 billion active cultures total.  It is also enteric-coated so the probiotics get to where they need to go and not destroyed in the stomach acid.

When you take antibiotics to treat that painful ear infection, throat infection or whatever it may be, the antibiotics don't know the difference between the good bacteria and bad bacteria in your body.  It kills off everything in its path.  That's why it is very important to supplement with probiotics, especially after long-term or strong antibiotic use.

Yeast Probiotic

While most people are familiar with the "good bacteria," there are also beneficial yeast supplements to neutralize the bacterial toxins in the body.

Saccharomyces boulardii is one of them and it is available through the company Florastor. It is usually marketted for people travelling to areas where traveller's diarrhea is common, but it can also be used for those who have diarrhea associated with acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Digestive enzymes are what break down the food we eat so our bodies can utilize the nutrients.  Their individual names usually include the suffix -ase.

Lactase = breaks down lactose
Protease = breaks down protein
Lipase = breaks down fat
(Plus many more)

Some digestive enzyme supplements contain a wide range of enzymes to help break down each part of the food you eat, including Organika Full Spectrum Plant Enzymes.

Yes, it is true that Celiac Disease can cause lactose intolerance.  The tips of the villi in the small intestine, which flatten from damage caused by the autoimmune Celiac reaction, produce lactase.  Lactase is what breaks down lactose in dairy products.  Sometimes the production of lactase will return when the villi grow back upon following a gluten-free diet but don't count on it.  Up to 90% of adults have lactose intolerance (of varying degrees), whether they have Celiac or not.   There are lactase pills that can help you break down just the lactose parts of dairy foods.


Fiber is not absorbed by the body - it is what helps to "get things moving" in your digestive tract.

There are two types of fiber:  insoluble and soluble.  Both are important in your diet. 

Soluble fiber is fiber that dissolves in water, as the name suggests.  It attracts water and turns to gel.  It includes psyllium husk (Metamucil), lentils, beans, chia seeds, carrots, insides of pears and apples, and orange

Insoluble fiber is that which does not dissolve in water and moves through the digestive system mostly intact.  It provides the roughage and bulk for your system to expel waste.  It includes leafy greens, fruit and vegetables skin (corn anyone?), celery and whole grains.

When going gluten-free, fiber is often in short supply because of the use of starches and sugar and fat used in gluten-free grain products.  Try to incorporate gluten-free whole grains in your diet to increase fiber.

Remember that too much fiber at once can be a shock to your digestive system.  If you decide to increase your fiber, do so slowly by adding the increased fibery foods over a couple of weeks.  


I know it sounds silly to suggest something as simple as water but your digestive system needs sufficient water to run smoothly - literally.  Consume at least 1.5 litres of water each day.  Try not to consume too much water with meals as it can dilute your body's natural digestive enzymes.

Other Supplements

L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to repair the intestinal lining.  Available in capsules and powder.

Peppermint may help with intestinal spasms and pain.  Beware that it has the opposite effect in some people and may trigger more symptoms.  Available in capsules, tincture (liquid to ingest) or tea form. 

Fennel is great for reducing bloating and calming the intestinal tract. Available in capsules, tincture and tea.

Ginger can help to soothe an upset stomach and ease nausea.  Available in capsules, tea and chews.

Bromelain is found in pineapple and papain is found in papayas.  They both have anti-inflammatory properties and also have enzymes that help break down protein.  You can eat pineapple and papaya on their own or they are available in capsules.  (Now you know why pineapple and papaya are sometimes used as meat tenderizers.)

More Tips
  • Sugar alcohols are evil.  Especially for those with a sensitive stomach.  Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, isomalt, mannitol and other -itols) are found in "sugar-free" products, like soda, candy and gum.  They are not digested by the body and attract water to the colon, causing bloating, diarrhea and cramps.  Cut this stuff from your diet if you suffer from any of those symptoms.
  • Sometimes other food intolerances and sensitivities can cause digestive upset. Some include dairy (all dairy products, not just the lactose portion), corn, soy, MSG and eggs. 
  • A high-fat diet can be hard on your digestive system.  Limit fried foods and animal products with high fat content.
  • When adding fiber to your diet, start slow.
  • Some prescription medication can cause digestive disturbance. 
  • Caffeine can speed up your digestive system.  Limit your intake of coffee and chocolate if diarrhea is an issue.
  • Eat fruit away from meals.  Fruit digests much quicker than other foods and can be slowed down when consumed with other food groups and left to ferment and cause bloating and cramps.
  • Chew well!  Digestion starts in your mouth.
  • Keep your diet as natural as possible.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains (gluten-free of course), nuts, legumes, lean meats, eggs and dairy (if you can handle it).
  • Keep a food diary to identify foods that cause trouble for you.  Start with a simple diet - often rice and bananas - and then add food items or groups one at a time.  When you notice symptoms, cut the food out and try to reintroduce at a later time.  You don't want to cut out a food based on one day of stomach upset that could have been from another source.
  • For tips on how to deal with acid reflux, check out Best Health magazine.
Eat well.  Be healthy.


Buffalo Gluten-Free - Part 2

Part 1 of this blog post will cover the gluten-free vendor fair and shopping for GF products in the US.

Part 2 of this blog post will cover dining and eating in Buffalo and Niagara, NY.

No trip to Buffalo, NY is complete without researching safe places to eat.  Luckily, the Western New York Gluten Free Support Group's website offers a huge list of places known by locals as offering gluten-free food.

Below, I review three of those places:  Mighty Taco, PF Chang's and Chipotle.

This fast food chain offers a wide range of gluten-free food.  Fast, cheap and tasty - you can't go wrong at Mighty Taco!

Mighty Taco sign
While not gourmet ingredients, what do you expect from a fast food joint?  Fast, simple and great. Taco, nachos, guacamole and a drink.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to go to PF Chang's.  I have heard nothing but amazing things about it but the vegetarian options on their gluten-free menu (click the GF menu link on that page) seemed a bit sparse.  I decided to see what all the fuss was about anyway.

GF Fried Rice

Wow, I do not regret this choice!  I got the GF Fried Rice and GF Buddha's Feast, which was a medley of steamed veggies.  As you can probably tell, the portions are HUGE.  The two orders together gave me at least three meals, if not four.  When you order from the GF menu, your food will come out on these round plates that say PF Chang's, instead of their square plates.  This is a great feature and I think other restaurants should think about doing this or colour coding plates for GF orders.

GF Buddha's Feast

Although I was completely stuffed from rice and veggies, my server (Nick, who was awesome, I might add) insisted that dessert was a must.  I decided to order the GF Flourless Chocolate Dome.

GF Flourless Chocolate Dome

Wow, look at the texture!  Since this dessert is flourless, it's like a giant truffle cake.  This tops the list as the best gluten-free dessert I have ever ordered at a restaurant.

GF Flourless Chocolate Dome
Definitely going back to PF Chang's on my next trip to Buffalo.  Next summer seems so far away...


Craving tacos again, I was tempted to go back to Mighty Taco. Instead, I went to Chipotle Mexican Grill.


Their website offers Special Diet Information

Chipotle Menu Board

Everything is made fresh to order in an assembly line.  You choose whether you would like a burrito, bowl, taco or salad.  Unfortunately, the burritos are NOT gluten-free.  But you can choose the hard corn taco, salad option, burrito bowl (it does not have the tortilla) or soft corn tortilla (select locations).

I chose to go for the hard taco shells with vegetarian fillings - veggies, black beans, lettuce, corn, mild salsa and cheese. 

GF Hard Corn Taco with Vegetarian option

I think this one is the GF chicken salad(?).  I admit the presentation isn't perfect but the quality of the fresh ingredients made up for the lack of visual appeal.

GF Chicken Salad at Chipotle

Chipotle also happens to have two locations in Toronto, Ontario - 323 Yonge Street and 2323 Yonge Street

Buffalo Gluten-Free - Part 1

Part 1 of this blog post will cover the gluten-free vendor fair and shopping for GF products in the US.

Part 2 of this blog post will cover dining out in Buffalo and Niagara, NY.

Just about every summer I go to Buffalo, New York for some shopping.  The yearly trip has taken on a different meaning since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2006.

On Saturday September 10, 2011, I took a weekend trip to Buffalo, NY to attend Western New York's Gluten Freedom Day.

The United States has the luxury of MANY different gluten-free products that we do not have access to in Canada.  Many can be found at Wegmans.

Gluten Freedom Day - Vendors
I was a little disappointed that very few of the vendors at the expo had products to sell.  Many offered samples and coupons which was great, however, I couldn't use the coupons in Canada.  I was told to purchase the products at Wegmans or some other American store.

Here are some pictures I snapped at the vendor fair.

Namaste mixes can also be purchased in Canada.  Lots of neat recipes using the mixes were available from the vendor.
Again, Pamela's Products are available in Canada.  However, I discovered that they also make GF granola bars!!  The bars use certified pure oats but unfortunately are not available in Canada.  I believe this is due to the fact that the current labelling laws in Canada do not allow even certified, pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free oats to be labelled "gluten-free."

Pamela's Products
Vin-Chet is a gluten-free bakery located in Amherst.  I sampled the sandwich bread and banana muffins - wow!  They tasted real. I purchased a package of each.

Vin Chet
I found donuts!  I immediately asked how much for this tray of donuts and was sad when told the tray was not for sale.  The lady said to visit their store.  I told the lady that I was from Toronto so I'd have to wait till next summer to try the donuts.  I seem to have perfected my sad, puppy dog face.  She told me to hang on a second and returned to the table with two powdered donuts to sell me! 

Vin Chet
Oh, to sink my teeth into a donut again... delicious!

mmm donut...

Some Schar products were available in Canada for a bit but they have since been pulled for not having bilingual labelling for Canadian consumers.  I have spoken with some people from Schar and am told that they should be coming back to Canada in 2012 when the packages are labelled properly.  See below for some product reviews!


Wegmans is a fantastic chain of supermarkets in the US.  Their store-brand products have little symbols in the corner when products are gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan and more.  The store had a giant display of the current GF products available with their store brand products.

Check out all these products!

Lots of gluten-free booze!  I tried some pumpkin beer.  It was interesting.  I should mention, I'm not a fan of beer.  Never have been and it would take a miracle for that to change in the future.

St. Julien Macaroons were incredible! 


Here are the samples I got at Gluten Freedom Day in Buffalo.

Free samples

I also had the pleasure of bumping into Trina of Astoria Mills.  She will be relaunching her line of products soon! Mix #7 will even make croissants - can't wait!  (And here I am with my box of goodies at Gluten-Freedom Day)

Gluten-Free Trina (left) and Jax

Trip to Wegmans

Wegmans is amazing!  You must visit if you are from Ontario and visiting Buffalo (or any other US city where there is a Wegmans).

Wegmans Storefront
I had to grab a picture of these Jax cheesy puffs.  I discovered when I got home that they actually are gluten-free.  I wish I would have purchased a bag, just for the novelty of having something named after me.  The picture will do for now.

They named some cheesy puffs after me!
Here's some gluten-free beer in Wegmans.  It's strange for me, as a Canadian, to see beer in a grocery store.  It was expensive stuff.  As I mentioned before, I don't like beer or I may have bought some.

More booze!
Wegmans brand Fruity Rice Crisps are an example of a product labelled gluten-free - and super cheap too!  There are TONS of store brand products throughout the store.  I really hope some Canadian grocery store chains pick up on this labelling feature.  I am aware that Metro now offers a line of Irresistables Gluten-Free products but they are more targeted specifically for the gluten-free crowd.  Wegmans labels just about anything and everything that happens to be GF.

Wegmans Fruity Rice Crisps
Post Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles are now labelled gluten-free!  While not my cup of tea, it's exciting to see more big brand, mainstream cereal companies catching on and catering to us Celiacs.

Post GF Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles
Here's the cereal I picked out!  Barbara's Multigrain Puffins (they contain GF oats), Kellogg's GF Rice Krispies, Cinnamon Chex and Chocolate Chex.  I meant to put the chocolate ones back but I forgot.  Oh well, I'll get to eat it eventually.

GF cereal not available in Canada (yet?)
We've come a long way, baby.  Check out this huge section in Wegmans for JUST gluten-free products.  Pasta, mixes, bread, crackers, cookies and more.

Aisle of gluten-free goodies!
Wegmans even had a small section of GF cookbooks at the end of the GF aisle.  I had to buy 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster.

A whole book shelf dedicated to gluten-free cookbooks
Schar products turned out to be fantastic!  Check out the Ciabatta Rolls!  Yum.
Schar Ciabatta Roll
Schar Cheese Bites are quite similar to Goldfish crackers!  While not fun fish shapes, they are circles, triangles and squares.

Schar Cheese Bites

Against the Grain is possibly my new favourite bread product.  (Don't get me wrong, GF products are definitely improving and I enjoy many products out there.)  They offer baguettes, bagels, rolls and pizza shells.  I got the baguettes.  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the product because it mysteriously disappeared... :) but I did borrow this one from their website.

Against the Grain
Annie's Creamy Deluxe Macaroni Dinner was enticing... I'm a sucker for mac 'n' cheese.

Ahhh, ravioli and perogies made by Conte's!! I cannot wait to try these!

Conte's GF ravioli and perogi

Wegmans - I miss you already.  I hope we meet again soon.


Gluten-Free Mushroom Risotto

Okay, so maybe the title is a little misleading since most risotto recipes are naturally gluten-free but this recipe is the best.  

If you hate doing dishes as much as I do, you'll appreciate the fact that this recipe only uses one large saucepan.

The Best Gluten-Free Mushroom Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice

1 medium onion

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fresh mushrooms

1 or 2 cubes vegetable bouillion (Celifibr is my favourite)

1/2 cup of dry white wine (not an expensive one)

3 1/2 cups water

1 stalk of celery, chopped

4 Tablespoons butter

Olive oil

Splash olive oil in large saucepan and melt 3 tablespoons of butter. 

Add mushrooms, celery and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. 

Add rice and sauté until coated and shiny. 

Add wine and one cup of water and bouillion cubes. Add some salt. 

Stir occasionally and add remaining water gradually. 

When liquid is nearly absorbed, turn heat off, add remaining butter, cover and leave for 5 or 10 minutes. 


If you find the risotto is missing something, add another bouillion cube, more wine or more butter.