So, when i told my girlfriends that I attended the Gluten Free Expo at the MTCC last weekend, the universal feedback was an unphased “of course you did”. I am not entirely sure why I radiate a granola girl lifestyle, but i was not surprised by the response i recieved. Yes i rub coconut oil on my legs, use natural rose mosqueta oils in replacement of cream, and thoroughly enjoy the guilt that comes with buying organic peanut butter, but that does not instantly mean i go out of my way to eat gluten- free, OKAY!?
On the other hand, healthy eating is a big part of my life, and not exactly on purpose. Sodium is my tummy’s arch enemy, meat scared the crap out of me for a good 19 years of my life, and as a child i found comfort in the friendships i made with broccoli, spinach and asparagus.. oh my.
My beautiful mother however is unfortunately gluten intolerant, so everyone can kindly get off my case please. Ten years ago this wonderful, hard-working lady woke up with hives all over her body. After two years of doctor fails, she self- diagnosed herself allergic to gluten. A year or so later, she was back to normal, eating whatever her heart desired. This was fine until a month ago when the allergy resurfaced.
Just a side note here, a gluten free Italian does not exist. If you were to mention gluten- free in Italy you would be instantly voted off the island. To top this off, my mother is an expert baker (people contact her for blueberry pies on the regular), so she is most definitely going to fall into a deep, deep cookie- less depression this holiday season. Santa won’t be stopping by my house this year.
So, as the unreal daughter that i am, i gave up my BLT sunday, forced my suburban mama to venture down to the big city, hop on a subway with me, and attend Toronto’s Gluten Free Expo.
Not surprisingly, this was Canada’s largest Gluten- Free event, and the South building of the MTCC was packed with over 100 vendors hoping to either advertise or sell their goods.
I am not the largest fan of gluten- free food, although some things are absolutely delicious. The crackers are usually quite good, my favorite being Mary’s crackers that you can find almost anywhere (costco). The baked goods i tend to steer far away from, however I found some pretty delicious sweet treats at this event, and at the very least they looked super delicious. Dairy is substituted for cashew cheese (wet cashews), which sounds like it would make you hurl, but a pizza’s a pizza right? There was such a diverse variety of foods to buy, from granola and oatmeal all the way to cakes and soup stocks. It truly was impossible not to find something that you enjoyed.
Being as hungover as i was, i was so grateful for all of the free samples that were shoved in my face. As my mum wandered aimlessly from booth to booth in a gluten- free wonderland, i went from sample to sample in hopes of soaking up the alcohol still swirling around in my stomach.
The worst experence i had was with a dry, green cracker which i will not share the name of. The young lady behind the booth excitedly told me that it was her new flavor: Italian herb and garlic. Sounds good right? I took a bite and instantly wanted to kill myself, it tasted exactly as it looked. I smiled and praised her cracker- making abilities, avoided eye contact, and headed straight to the garbage can.
From that moment on, i stuck to the gluten- free grilled cheese, gluten free mac and cheese, and the gluten free pizza rolls (which were dynamite). The only thing i bought were the quinoa burgers that can be found at virtually any grocery store, and some vegannaise because why the f*ck not. It tasted the same anyways and i had just run out of my mayo the day before.
The plus side of this event was that my mum went home carrying 5+ bags, and that most of her purchases were made at 25%-50% cheaper than in-store. She was smiling, and that’s all that matters.
Most people don’t realize this, but gluten can be found in virtually all foods, and most decievingly in sauces and spices. My mum was most happy with her gluten free spice purchases, as well as all the dips and sauces she acquired. Men take note, every woman loves their dips, no matter how old they are.
For those unlucky enough to have gluten sensitivity, if you eat foods that have gluten in them, something in your body triggers an autoimmune reaction. Your body puts up its swords and declares war on the gluten antibodies in the exact same way that antibodies would attack viruses. What is the end result? Gluten prevails, damaging the bodies intestines, which then inhibits the absorption of nutrients, usually leading to serious nutrient deficiencies.
So no matter how awful the food, how busy the convention, or how loud the marching band in my head was playing, the day was a success. I learnt that most products could be found at Longo’s or Whole foods in case i ever run out (lol), and we both left with our stomachs full and our bodies gluten- free (and thus nutrient- rich).
What did i do when i got home? Ordered a pizza and i could not have been happier.
Bon appetit (-less).