Yum Yum: Guide to Eating Gluten-Free

Okay, we get it, you’re gluten-challenged. Who isn’t these days? Now,
just ’cause
 your bod can’t tolerate one little protein doesn’t mean you have to
sit at home eating seeds by yourself
while your friends are out consuming white flour like it’s going out of style
(it is, btw
). We equal-opportunity eaters here on the fourth floor have put
together this helpful little Toronto gluten-free guide for you Celiacs
 and
sympathizers, so get out there. Live your life.

Kensington
Cornerstone



Betcha didn’t know this place was ENTIRELY gluten-free,
did ya? This Kensington Market neighbourhood eatery boasts an extensive menu
that doesn’t compromise taste or selection. 
Sourcing all their breads from
Molly B’s Gourmet Organic Gluten-Free Kitchen,
you can indulge in one of their massive pulled pork sandwiches without a worry
in the world. We can’t wait for the sunny weather to be back so we can stake
out a place on their prime people-watching patio with a pitcher of their Spiked
Peach Ice Tea (try saying that 10 times fast).

Queen Mother Cafe
As if you needed another reason to love this Queen Street
staple, the Queen Mum has tailored a menu that can easily accommodate gluten-free requests. Their famous Pad Thai can
be cooked with a gluten-free soy sauce, making it a delicious dish that doesn’t
discriminate. The Khao Soy Gai is an
awesome, spicy, broth-based dish that can be made Celiac-friendly by substituting
the egg noodles for rice. Don’t want to be one of those high-maintenance customers making substitutions? Try the
quinoa salad, as is. The high protein grain is a must-have in a diet sans wheat, and the Queen Mother has perfected its execution in a simple, 
but filling, salad.

Karine’s Vegan,
Vegetarian & All Day Breakfast

OCAD’s best kept secret is Karine’s breakfast. Contrary to what their name might suggest,
they aren’t exclusively vegan (you can get sausage, peameal or regular bacon.)
Don’t be fooled by their modest presence in the Village on the Grange food
court, Karine’s serves up some serious breakfast on some sassy Fiestaware. If you’ve ever eaten at their matriarch
location, Maggie’s on College Street, you’re familiar with the heaping portions of
garlic fries and fresh fruit. The best
part of Karine’s (besides being called “gorgeous baby” by the ladies
behind the counter) is that this all day gluten-free breakfast will only set
you back $5.

Heady Brew Company

Alright kids, you can put down the cider. Thanks to founder Robert Cundari, gluten-free beer is creeping up on the craft beer scene in the GTA. Five years in the making, Heady Brew Company’s
Honey Citrus gluten-free beer is readily available throughout the city.  Check their Facebook page and Twitter for
updated locations!
The Burger’s Priest
Oh  yeah, that’s
right. Toronto’s best burger has a
gluten-free bun upon request. We’re
gonna let these babies speak for themselves. 
(Vegans beware: The Option contains cheese.)


So there you have it, little gluten-freegans. Don’t say we can’t take you anywhere. 



Yum, yum: Fabarnak

We love good food, but good food for a good cause is even
better. Fabarnak, the restaurant inside the 519 Church Street Community Centre
at Church and Jarvis, knows how to get your taste buds excited. Besides serving delicious food, 100 per cent of the restaurant’s proceeds go back into the
community centre. This means you can sample multiple menu items and not feel
guilty about it (or at least feel less guilty). To top it off, at least 60 per cent
of everything on the menu is sourced from local farmers and producers. 
The inviting exterior lures you in for the goodness that awaits. 



If you can’t decide what to treat yourself with from Fabarnak’s extensive menu, then the Square Peg is for you. The Square Peg is four selections from the menu served in a bento box-like
tray. The selections changes fairly often; ours had a crab cake, a green salad
with buttermilk dressing, barbequed pork belly and bourbon chocolate cake. Everything was delicious and the perfect portion sizes to fill you up (but you’ll probably want to go back for more).

 The bento box-like Square Peg is the perfect solution for indecisive diners. 
Image source.

Along with the Square Peg, the menu
ranges from soups and sandwiches to gluten-free mac and cheese to
barbeque beef brisket. Oh, and did we mention Fabarnak also has a
Saturday brunch, beginning at 9 a.m.?
If you’re still not convinced, let us sweeten the deal: Fabarnak’s menu items range in price from
$4.00 to $12.00. We only wish this little
Church Street hot spot was closer to the fourth floor, otherwise you’d
catch us there daily.


 Gluten-free mac and cheese with cauliflower veloute, local cheese and tomato relish.

Insider’s tip: If the restaurant is too busy to sit in (as it very well
could be), take your food to go and sit in Cawthra Park behind 519.

Fabarnak is open
Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. Follow them on Twitter
@FABARNAKresto or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fabarnak

Yum, yum: Toronto Beer Fest

We had the pleasure of attending Toronto Beer Fest a few weeks back.
It was so good we went twice in one weekend, in fact. For a great price (about $38), you
can sample hundreds of beers from around the world and experience some great
food offerings. Plus, what’s better than an outdoor festival in the sun, with tasty local and international suds?


We tasted beers from all over the place, and there are so many that we enjoyed. It was tough, but we narrowed it down to our three favourite breweries.

Based out of Barrie Ontario, this brewery’s motto is “normal is weird.”
The style of this booth (and the beer) was exceptionally colourful and fruity.
Not into their very berry flavours? Grab a bottle of Hoptical Illusion, a
flavourful hoppy beer. You can often find us downing a pint of this at 416 Snack Bar for some post-work stress relief.

“Do one thing and do it well”, is the motto of this brewery. Not only is the beer refreshing, we had fun wearing the Steam Whistle box hats around the park, which have been a part of the experience at Toronto’s Festival of Beer since the brewery’s inception. Evidence below.

Normal is weird…
Based out of Tokyo, their rice lagers are very dry and extremely drinkable. Not only good for a visit to your fave sushi restaurant, the beer is perfect for a trip the cottage. Plus, for our wheat intolerant friends, this is one gluten free beer that doesn’t taste like a compromise.


While drinking pints, it’s necessary to have something great to
nosh on, lest we get out of control. Our favourite food vendors from the weekend were some local favourites

We loved the Gorgeous George, which includes a heavenly combination of
peanut butter, bacon and pulled pork. Sounds odd, tastes, well…. gorgeous.

The line up for this booth was absolutely the longest. But we could see
why after sampling their rolls, that consisted of chunky lobster, a light mayo
and crispy buttered bun. Drool.



Make sure to keep your eyes on the http://www.beerfestival.ca for regular updates about next year’s fest. You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be there again! 

Yum, yum: Banana Muffins

Restaurants these days are offering gluten-free pastas, bakeries are making gluten-free baked goods, and gluten-free recipes are popping up everywhere. For those of us who try to avoid gluten, we say the more options the better. While some restaurants and bakeries have mastered this modified way of cooking and baking, in a lot of cases, the alternatives just do not compare. So we decided to take things into our own hands. 

After trying a few different recipes, our most successful gluten-free baking triumph happens to be one of our all-time greatest comfort foods: banana muffins.

 Image source.
Gluten-Free Banana Oat Muffins
Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups gluten-free oats (available at most health food stores)
1 cup almond flour (other gluten-free flours like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, or quinoa flour, etc. can be substituted)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 cups mashed banana (4-6 bananas, over ripe are best)
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preparation:
1.     Beat egg, banana and melted butter together in a small bowl until smooth.
2.     Add banana mixture to dry ingredients, stir until mixed.
3.     Fill greased muffin cups (almost full).
4.     Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched.


If your food allergies are not just limited to gluten, we’ve also used this recipe courtesy of the website My New Roots, that has no eggs, dairy, or sugar and it works with a variety of flours as well.
Ingredients:
1/4 cup milk of your choice (almond, hemp, goat, soy…)
6 Tbsp. olive oil, butter, ghee or coconut oil
6 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (approximately 5 medium bananas)
2 cups flour of your choice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup chopped nuts + seeds (walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (1 standard 100 g bar) – optional
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line an 8” x 8” cake pan or loaf pan with baking paper, or lightly oil and dust with flour, shaking out excess.
3. Put the milk, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and bananas in a blender and blend until smooth.
4. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add banana mixture and combine using as few stroked as possible. Fold in nuts and chocolate.
5. Pour into a cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time varies greatly according to oven – mine takes about an hour, but this recipe suggests only 30 minutes. Check periodically after the half hour mark.)
Gluten-free baking (well any baking really) is all about trial and error. Some flours will be too dry, others too moist. But if you’re willing to put in the time, it’s satisfying to find a healthy recipe that tastes great, and may even fool those who think they can taste the difference.