Gluten-Free in Montreal: La Fabrique for Brunch

Gluten-Free Breakfast at La Fabrique

I have a new person in my life and they love going out for brunch. I used to love going out for brunch. Pre-celiac disease crepes with raspberry sauce was my go to and brunch with my friends was always a great experience. Post celiac disease brunch became a little scary. Brunch spots can be so busy, have so much bread and so many opportunities for contamination. While on the other hand breakfast at home is pretty easy to make and I make a pretty decent brunch in bed. I have missed plenty of friend brunches eating my eggs and potatoes at home but this new person may have convinced me to attempt brunch out again once in a while. I have always felt comfortable at Aux Vivres which has a gluten-free items marked on their menu but it would be nice to broaden my horizons a bit.

This week we tried La Fabrique on St-Denis, near Sherbrooke Metro. While nothing on the changing menu is marked gluten-free they are very familiar with gluten-free and told me to look at the menu and they would make me something around what I liked.  I chose the Gravlax and they served it on a potato base with a yogurt sauce and they added an egg. I would definitely recommend La Fabrique for brunch if you are in the area but wouldn’t say you should go far out of your way. I also tried it once for dinner and it was great but there weren’t a bunch of gluten-free options since I don’t eat red meat. I ended up having two starters as my meal.

I will keep you posted about my future gluten-free brunch experiences.

La Fabrique 

3609 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2X 3L6

http://bistrotlafabrique.com/

Accommodates gluten-free: Ok

Price: $$

Gluten-free menu: No

gluten-free

To all those new to the gluten-free world: You can do it!

Happy and healthy in the kitchen

Happy and healthy in the kitchen

Taking on a strict gluten-free diet can be scary and this fear can keep us from our ultimate health. For the first few years of my diagnosis while I was in my early 20s I was overwhelmed by the idea of being 100% gluten-free. It was too hard. Too time consuming. Too confusing. Too isolating. Too restricting. Too much missing out on good stuff! It wasn’t until I continued to be sick and learn more that I realized enough was enough. My illness was real, I was slowly seriously damaging my body and I needed to take care of my self because no one else would.

Talking to a friend of a friend today and motivating her to take the steps to start a gluten-free diet to treat her health problems and get tested for celiac disease reminded me of all those fears from years ago. Fear is normal but focusing on your health and little steps will get you through it.

My tips on how to start a gluten-free diet  and deal with the fear of the unknown (for those who need to be strict in their diet and exposure to gluten):

  1. Read and learn as much as you can. Many doctors and even gastroenterologists don’t know a lot about celiac disease or the effects of gluten on inflammation and auto immune diseases. It was through my own research I learned that my terrible canker sores were a sign of celiac disease. There are lots of website about celiac disease and healthy eating. A few of my faves are Gluten Is my Bitch, My New Roots and Oh She Glows. I have also found my local library has a lot of gluten-free cookbooks. Before buying I like to check them out to make sure they are worth the purchase. I love this cookbook “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow because it’s a “secret” gluten-free cookbook filled with healthy and pretty simple recipes that happen to be gluten-free. It features lots of clean recipes and ideas for flavourful and good for you food.
  2. You will make mistakes and it’s ok. One thing that was hard for my mom and I who are perfectionists: not realizing the hidden sources of gluten. We often felt defeated but it’s a learning process. Don’t feel bad about making mistakes just learn from them and keep moving towards a gluten-free life! My friend tried to make me a gluten-free feast this past weekend and then realized the cooking spray he used had flour in it!?!? He felt so bad but it happens and that’s how you learn what to avoid. We just whipped up something else for me to eat and it was no biggie at all!
  3. Take this as an opportunity to make positive changes.  A gluten-free diet done right is healthier and I now follow a much much healthier diet than I did when I was a 20 year old student living off of bagels and diet cokes.  The limited choices available for eating out of the house has forced me to learn how prepare meals and be organized about packing lunches and snacks.
  4. RELAX. Let’s not forget about stress and how it can worsen digestive symptoms and your overall health. Exercising, meditating, journaling  etc. are good ways to reduce stress. When I have been gluten poisoned but not in my I can hardly get out of bed stage, I find a light run sometimes helps my symptoms and helps lessen the pain. Stressing about gluten only complicates things for your digestive system.
  5. If you don’t know how to cook it is never too late to slowly learn the basics. If you don’t already cook start with learning how to make an easy salad dressing, stir fry, omelette, soup and pasta dish. You don’t need to become an amazing cook but being healthy and gluten-free is a lot easier if you can make a few things at home in your safe kitchen and pack some lunches for work. And speaking about safe kitchens I am currently lucky to live alone but if you share yours with someone who eats a lot of bread they need to slowly learn how to keep the kitchen gluten-free friendly for you. Also- don’t go kissing people who have just eaten a huge sandwich or chugged a pint! Sounds ridiculous but if your aren’t using the same toaster as one that has had bread in it you shouldn’t be kissing someone who just ate a bunch of it.
  6. Focus on the foods you love that are already gluten-free. Mine are: potatoes, rice, seafood, goat cheese, eggs, greens, chocolate and wine. Focus on all the good stuff and things you can make to replace the stuff you are missing. Nachos, home made french fries, most meat dishes have always been gluten-free. This is helpful when eating out, which is where most of my panic still comes from. I try to avoid eating at restaurants that have no clue what gluten-free is or think it’s in normal rice and potatoes. My friends have gotten great at accommodating my diet and those few times I have to go somewhere I am not sure about, for example for a birthday, I will call in advance, check the menu and talk to the manager and if I’m still not sure I will just have a glass of wine. You aren’t being picky you are making sure you are not made seriously ill for the next few days/weeks.
  7. Tell the haters to shut-up, in a nice way. There will still be a few people that don’t get it and will tell you to just eat bread or it’s all in your head and just ignore them. People who love you will slowly learn with you and help you out with your new lifestyle. My friends pick me up new products and love trying new gluten-free recipes but this didn’t happen over night. The important people in your life will learn not to double dip in the shared containers. Peanut butter, butter, jam, mayo, cheese etc. And you will learn to always serve yourself first at a group meal before bread gets into and all over everything. When I go away for the weekend with friends and or people I don’t live with I will write my name in bold marker on the top of containers I want to keep gluten-free and tell everyone that they can use them but cannot double dip any utensils that have been used on or near bread products.
  8. Now is the best time ever to be gluten-free! There has never been more certified gluten-free products. They are almost everywhere. Always read your labels and when you are uncertain check online and or call the company.

Yes it can be overwhelming to drastically change your diet but feeling healthy feeds so good. More specifically not feeling like I was being slowly poisoned to death was the biggest push to continue following a strict diet. Not spending my life lying in a ball, running to the bathroom or staying home having a date with the washroom is to this day the reason I will never ever ever eat gluten again on purpose!

You can do it! Good luck and feel free to send me questions!

🙂

Gluten-Free Product Review: Sabatasso’s Gluten-Free Pizza

IMG_7458-0.JPG

My mom picked me up these Sabatasso’s Pizzas at Costco. The price is right at $12 for 2 pizzas. Almost unheard of in the gluten-free world. And while the price is right thankfully the taste was just as good. For frozen pizzas these are great. It’s a simple cheese pizza and would make a great base for all sorts of toppings. While I try to stay away from pre-packaged food this is a good option when you are in a rush, just pop it in the oven. It also made the perfect late night snack after a night out. Even celiacs need unhealthy pizza at 2 am!

IMG_7461.JPG

IMG_7460.JPG

 

Gluten-Free Bisquick: Easy Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

Gluten-Free Garlic Cheese Biscuit

I have seen many recipes on Pinterest that use Gluten-Free Bisquick but had never seen it in Quebec until this past week and I had to try it out for myself. I found it in the gluten-free section of this IGA (to note this is one fancy IGA that plays jazz music and has lots of gluten-free products throughout the aisles). So far I have just tried these biscuits and they were pretty darn good for a first try. I didn’t used the recipe on the box but kinda followed this recipe online.

These biscuits are yummy and so far I would recommend this mix. But at $6 for just over 2 cups the mix isn’t cheap so I would be more likely to buy it on sale. Forgetting the price, this mix does make a very easy biscuit that tastes a little bit like the biscuits back in the day at Red Lobster which I was obsessed with as a child. I would eat those babies until I was sick and probably gluten poisoned. These easy gluten-free copies make a great side with a soup. Who doesn’t love fresh biscuits with a little cheese and garlic when it gets cold. Did I mention it’s easy. Impress people with oven fresh gluten-free “bread” with the littlest of effort!

Gluten-Free Garlic and Cheese Biscuits

  • 2 cups Bisquick Gluten-Free Mix
  • 1-2 cloves grated fresh garlic (you can use garlic powder if you don’t have fresh on hand, about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used aged cheddar)
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 3 eggs
  • Optional: Poppy seeds to mix into batter and place on top of the biscuits. You can also sprinkle extra cheese and fleur de sel on the tops. Extra melted butter can also be brushed on top of the finished biscuits.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Using a fork or your hands combine the flour mix with the butter and garlic until it becomes crumbly. Mix in the butter, cheese, milk and eggs until dough forms. Add in poppy seeds if using. Place dough onto an ungreased baking sheet in 10 biscuit sized rolls.

Bake for 9-13 minutes until they start to get slightly golden but not overcooked. If you wish brush them with extra melted butter once out of the oven go wild!

Serve warm or pop them in the microwave for a few seconds. They also freeze well!

IMG_7377

IMG_7374

IMG_7373

IMG_7376

Gluten-free in Italy: Cinque Terre Region & Liguria

Pizza at Netuno in Rapallo

Pizza at Netuno in Rapallo

Sailing for almost two weeks in Italy with my best friend and her friend sounded too good to be true but I was worried about my diet. Thankfully Italy in general is accommodating to gluten-free diets and my travel partners were amazing in adapting to my diet on the boat and were happy to share gluten-free meals with me at restaurants. As I mentioned in my previous post about Rome, I tried my best to be prepared which included stocking the boat with gluten-free crackers, breadsticks, cookies and pasta. Most of the products in Italy are individually wrapped in portions which was great for eating on the boat. We ate breakfast, lunch and a few dinners on the boat. Pesto pasta was our go to dinner and to simplify things in our mini kitchen we would make gluten-free pasta for everyone or make mine first. My friends were careful and I just had to explain how I couldn’t use the same utensils as were used on bread etc. Gluten-free is difficult in any kitchen, never mind a mini-mini one but keeping things simple made it easier. Luckily my travel partners were up to the task of being amazing GFBFFs and made it a lot easier for me, they even scouted out gluten-free products and found me gluten-free gelato in random places.

As we were moving from port to port each day and had limited access to the internet I wasn’t able to research gluten-free friendly restaurants in advance but found great places to eat in most of the towns we were in. I always say it’s important to try and be easy going and positive when traveling gluten-free. It’s a challenge but with a positive attitude it’s a lot easier to navigate a gluten-filled world.

Overall, Italy was amazing as always and being able to eat and have people understand celiac disease everywhere I went made for a great travel experience.

Delicious pesto pasta made by my GFBFF Andrea

Delicious pesto pasta made by my GFBFF Andrea

Lots of products like this prosciutto were labeled gluten-free

Lots of products like this prosciutto were labeled gluten-free

Even the yogurt was labeled gluten-free

Even the yogurt was labeled gluten-free

Nettuno, Rapallo

We ate at Nettuno twice as the food was great, it was full of locals and they had great gluten-free options including all the pizzas on the menu and most of the pastas. The pizza is made on its own tray to keep it celiac friendly. Both my pizzas were amazing and my travel partners had great meals as well. I couldn’t contain my excitement when we decided to dock here a second night. We got margherita pizzas to go to eat on the boat the next day as it’s an easy meal while sailing.

Pizza at Nettuno

IMG_7023

The non-gluten-free 1 meter pizza for my friends

The non-gluten-free 1 meter pizza for my friends

Margherita Pizza on the boat the next day

Margherita Pizza on the boat the next day

La Prua, Lavagna

La Prua didn’t have a million options but I had a great seafood risotto and there were a few other options as well.

http://www.paginegialle.it/lavagna-ge/bar/prua

IMG_6800

Portofino

The restaurant we chose on the Main street on the water had gluten free penne. It’s good to ask if they have gluten-free pasta when you are walking around looking for a place to eat.

IMG_6862

Manarola (Cinque Terre)

In this small town there were two places I saw that had gluten-free faranita. Il Discovolo had an entire gluten-free section and a lot of gluten-free products for purchase. The owner was super helpful and stepped out to explain what what was gluten-free in store and explain how things were kept separate. My friend was super excited by the “gluten-free limit zone” in the display case. I ordered a delicious panini with tomatoes and mozzarella. Riomaggiore also had gluten-free farinita.

IMG_7070

IMG_7085

IMG_7080

Delicious Farinita

Delicious Farinita

IMG_7081

Happy waiting for the train with my gluten-free panini from Il Discovolo

Happy waiting for the train with my gluten-free panini from Il Discovolo

Gluten-free in Italy: Rome

Italy Gluten-Free

Travelling gluten-free is always a challenge but it’s a challenge I will always happily accept. Celiac disease will never keep me at home and particularly will never keep me from Italy! The last time I visited Italy for a month I was 19 and hadn’t yet been diagnosed as celiac but I sure was. On our backpacker budget of $40 a day (including travel) my friends and I were eating bread, nutella, pastries, pizza, paninis and more bread. To say I had stomach problems would be an understatement but at the time it was normal to always have stomach problems. Now more than ten years later I was curious to see what Italy had to offer in the gluten-free department. I was looking forward to eating in Italy as I had heard that they were very accommodating to gluten-free diets. My consensus after two weeks visiting Rome and some of the coast north of Rome is it’s a pretty good place to travel gluten-free if you have normal expectations and are easy going about it. Not once did someone not know what senza glutine was. Everyone I spoke to understood what it meant, which doesn’t always happen in Montreal. As usual, airports and small cafés do not have good options but most restaurants were able to at least make me salad and fish, while most had risotto or gf pasta and quite a few places had pizza that was safe for celiacs. In Italy they understand that for celiacs eating gluten-free is not just a diet but a treatment for a disease.

Packing lots of snacks for any trip is always very important when travelling gluten-free. For the flight I brought a sandwich and snacks and for the trip things like gluten-free granola to add to my yogurt for breakfast, nuts and Larabars were key. Once I was in Rome I picked up some gluten-free products at the grocery store in the Termini station. Before I left I researched restaurants and saved maps detailing how to get there them from my hotel on my phone. In less than 48 hours in Rome I had two pizzas, pasta and two servings of gluten-free gelato.

Fatamorgana

I highly recommend Fatamorgana in Rome. Not all gelato is gluten-free and it can also get contaminated from cones. At Fatamorgana all the gelato and the cones are %100 gluten-free. I went to two different locations and all the flavours I tried were amazing. I recommend mapping them out so you can find one in whatever area you are in. I wish I could eat it everyday!

http://www.gelateriafatamorgana.com/web/

Gluten-Free Ice Cream from Fatamorgana in Roma

Fatamorgana

Gluten-Free Ice Cream from Fatamorgana in Roma

La Scaletta

The pizza here was delicious. It’s in a super touristy area but it’s a great place to grab a glass of wine and gluten-free pizza if you are near the pantheon. I was very happy to have my margherita pizza and a glass of wine after a long day traveling.

http://www.lascalettaroma.it/

La Scaletta GF Pizza

La Pilotta

This restaurant near the Vatican is also a little touristy but they can make almost the whole menu gluten-free. It’s a great spot to stop for a quick lunch if you are in the area. The margherita pizza was delicious with a great crust!

https://plus.google.com/107935115050249984501/about?gl=ca&hl=en

Pizza at La Pilotta

Mama Eat!

This restaurant was highly recommended online for gluten free-dining. It is in the Travestere area and I think there must be better options around. Based on the good reviews I tried it but the food was so so. They have a gluten-free menu which is what I think draws people to the restaurant but my salad was the worst I had in Italy and my spaghetti carbonara was not great. I make a much better one at home!

IMG_6697

Where to buy products:

Pharmacies and grocery stores usually had some gluten-free products for sale. If you are moving around like I was I recommend stocking up on some pasta and snacks as it is hard to know what will be available. The tiny grocery in a little port town had a gluten-free section while a much larger store in a bigger town did not.

Tips:

  • Research and map out restaurants that are recommended by other gluten-free travellers. I saved photos of maps to different restaurants on my phone and also mapped restaurants that were recommended on a paper map. The streets in Rome aren’t on a grid so it’s a good idea to map out the places you want to eat if you aren’t using GPS.
  • Print a celiac card in Italian: http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/italian/
  • Pack snacks.

Part 2 of my trip coming soon!

Lots of gluten-free products!

Lots of gluten-free products!

Veggie Bowl with Easy Peanut Sauce (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Easy Veggie Bowl with Peanut Sauce

This is one of my favourite quick dinners to make after the gym with my girlfriends. With a few of us doing the chopping and cooking it takes less than 30 minutes to prepare a healthy, fresh and delicious dinner. This recipe is also great on work nights because it makes the best lunches.  It’s always a combination of rice noodles or rice, veggies and a quick peanut sauce we make with whatever we have on hand. The recipe below is general because these bowls are all about making something delicious and quick with what you have in your kitchen. There are many recipes for the best peanut sauce online but the two methods are super easy and delicious. To me this is the perfect indulgent but healthy gluten-free dinner that is almost too easy to make.

Quick Veggie Bowl

  • Prepare your rice or noodles (We used these amazing Brown Rice and Wakame Noodles).
  • Pan fry your tofu or protein of choice. We fried our tofu in sesame oil and added some gf tamari once it was getting crispy.
  • Prepare your veggies. We usually keep most of our veggies raw (julienning the peppers and grating carrots). We steamed the broccoli. Also great with brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, spinach, bok choy, mushrooms etc.
  • Prepare your bowls and add the peanut sauce.
  • Can be served with green onions, chopped peanuts, fresh herbs, sambal olek and limes on the side

Quick Peanut Sauce

In a pot combine about a cup peanut butter with half a can coconut milk  (you can add more coconut milk depending or thickness and preference, I usually don’t measure).  Bring it to a simmer over medium heat then lower heat. Add gluten-free tamari (or gluten-free soy sauce), sambal olek or hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, a little brown sugar, ginger or garlic to taste. All of these ingredients are optional. An alternative method if you are missing the coconut milk is to combine all the ingredients except  for the coconut milk and add boiling water until you reach your desired consistency.

That’s it!

IMG_6365

IMG_6373]

Easy Veggie Bowl with Gluten-Free Peanut Sauce