FOOD - Gluten-free Goodness at the Gluten Free Garage

Blog Post Nov 04, 2013

By Lesia D. Kohut

Gluten-free is all the rage at the moment. From new products lining store shelves to farmers’ market vendors introducing gluten-free products at the markets, to ads for bacon with taglines like “Naturally gluten-free...”

As we are immersed in a veritable sea of gluten-free products, the resources available to us also grows. One of the best ways to find out more about a gluten-free lifestyle is by attending events dedicated to all things gluten-free. 

And, in just a few weeks, on Sunday, Nov. 17, one of the newest kids on the gluten-free event block, the Gluten Free Garage , will take place at the gorgeous and intimate Wychwood Barns.

LPK’s has been fortunate enough to participate in the first two Gluten Free Garage events, and I’m very much looking forward to taking part in the third one.

So because the timing was perfect, and I thought it’d be great to drum up even more publicity for this wonderful event, I sat down with RonnyLin Pustil (founder of Gluten Free Garage, and mother of seven-year-old Lily, a confirmed celiac) to find out more about this smash hit of an event, and how it got started in the first place. 

Here’s what we talked about:

Are you or someone in your family gluten-free? Was it a difficult adjustment?

Yes. We found out four years ago that our daughter, Lily, was celiac so we immediately transformed our house into a 100 per cent gluten-free environment.

At the time, it was a huge adjustment for us (my husband and me); we didn’t even know what gluten was. We were overwhelmed by the new diet and all changes that had to be made. Spontaneity was a big one; for example we couldn’t just pull over and eat anywhere anymore. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what gluten/gluten-free is.

It was less of an adjustment for Lily though, since she was only three. She missed a few things like Goldfish crackers and croissants at the beginning.

We bought everything gluten-free we could find, and a lot of it tasted terrible. We found our favourites though, and they soon became staples in our household.

I’m happy and relieved that it (celiac) was caught early, and that she didn’t suffer long with symptoms.

Do you cook and bake a lot, or do you buy prepared gluten-free food?  

I do bake and cook, although I baked a lot more before we went gluten free. Some of the things I bake now are banana cake, lemon loaf, coconut brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Pancakes are a staple in our house, and we eat a lot of eggs.

We also eat cereals, but they tend to have a lot of sugar in them, and that’s a concern, so now I make my own granola, which is a big hit with everyone.

After buying everything in the beginning so Lily wouldn’t free deprived, and finding much of it didn’t taste good, I started really reading labels and saw how much garbage was in some of the processed gluten-free foods. That was the initiative for seeking out more local, gluten-free food, and knowing what goes into food. We also buy fresh food from smaller artisanal food producers and bakers.

How do you handle going out to eat?

Going out – we have our favourites:  Hibiscus (100 per cent gluten-free), Off the Hook, Lady Marmalade (gluten-free friendly), CocoaLatte (gluten-free friendly), Magic Oven, Fresh, Live and Banfi (the owner is Celiac so the staff is well educated about gluten free). We also like going out for sushi, but bring our own gluten-free tamari.

I also call ahead and ask a million questions, to make sure they can accommodate us.

How did Gluten Free Garage originate?

In finding local gluten-free businesses and bakeries, I thought it’d be amazing to bring all these finds together in one place so other people who need to eat gluten-free can see what Toronto has to offer.

What sets Gluten Free Garage apart from other events is that vendors are curated, and the number of vendors is limited.

I had never done an event before; I just felt motivated and excited about it!

Why have Gluten Free Garage at Wychwood Barns?

We visit the farmers’ market at Wychwood every weekend. I could see the event being there right away. I also wanted Gluten Free Garage to have the vibe of a market instead of a trade event at a convention centre.

Some have criticized Gluten Free Garage for charging an entrance fee unnecessarily. Why not have a free event like the Vegetarian Food Festival?

There are a lot of costs associated with event, and we do have to recoup them. However, it’s only $10, and kids 12 and under get in free.  This gets you get access to more than 60 vendors, tons of free samples, access to guest speakers and a really cute tote bag (said with a smile).

I’m very excited about our guest speakers this time: Maggie Savage (blogger of She Let Them Eat Cake), who will be speaking about “Gluten-free in the House”, Joy McCarthy (RHN, owner Joyous Health) and Ricki Heller (whole foods chef, author of many books including her new book Naturally Sweet & Gluten-free).

I’m also really excited about the food trucks: Gourmet B1tches (100 per cent gluten free) and Hero Burger (who are thoroughly cleaning their truck before the event to prevent cross-contamination).

How do you choose vendors for Gluten Free Garage?  Has this changed since the first event in November of 2012?

The first thing I did, and still do, is go on a treasure hunt for products, bakeries, farmers’ markets and to local food events (e.g. Vegetarian Food Festival, Soupalicious). I also wanted a mix of vendors and products – not just baked goods but also savoury, skincare and more.

I spoke to other people as well, came up with list, and then I pursued the people on that list.

Now, I like to give previous vendors first right of refusal, then extend to other places. There are many companies who’ve contacted Gluten Free Garage, and there are always new things coming up.

The criteria for being chosen to be a vendor hasn’t changed:

1. It has to taste good (even better if it’s “Lily approved”).

2. I won’t say every product is good for you, but it has to be healthier to be at this event. For example, I had some pasta companies approach us for sponsorship, and we chose Italpasta because they use non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn in their gluten-free pasta.

3. A lot of vendors are very health and social conscious Earth and City, RawFoodz, Belmonte Raw), and we have some great catering companies coming this time (Urban Acorn, Hearty Catering, My Little Chickpea). We also have Organic Works Bakery (I love their bread), and we have the best gluten-free bakers in town.

4. Ultimately, all vendors have to make products we would have in our home, so not just gluten free but also celiac friendly.

• How do you think gluten-free foods are changing as more and more people become aware of gluten-free intolerances and celiac disease? Does “gluten-free” mean “healthy” and “good for you”?

There’s more out there, but not all of it is good for you. The market is becoming saturated, so it’s important to read labels and not just buy stuff because it’s gluten free.

It’s also not about depriving yourself. So we try and seek out the healthier versions of gluten-free foods.

Clearly a lot of thought, personal experience and desire to keep her daughter, Lily, well fed and nourished have been inspiration and motivation for RonnyLin and the Gluten Free Garage team. 

So, whether you’re new to gluten-free, or are on the lookout for healthier, artisanal, and locally made gluten-free options, make plans to immerse yourself in gluten-free goodness at the third semi-annual Gluten Free Garage Sunday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See you there!

---

Lesia Kohut is an eco-pastry chef, social entrepreneur and founder of LPK’s Culinary Groove - Toronto’s first organic pastry and chocolate shop, and home of the award-winning Vanilla, and Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars. Lesia has been vegetarian since age 15, and believes in eating local, organic, sustainable fare. She is an active supporter of local, organic farmers markets, and is constantly inspired by farmers and food artisans. Lesia is a proponent of building awareness through community, especially by knowing who and where our food comes from, and reminds everyone whenever she can that vegan and gluten-free can and does taste amazing. Contact her at lesia@lpksculinarygroove.com

FOOD - Gluten-free Goodness at the Gluten Free Garage

Blog Post Nov 04, 2013

By Lesia D. Kohut

Gluten-free is all the rage at the moment. From new products lining store shelves to farmers’ market vendors introducing gluten-free products at the markets, to ads for bacon with taglines like “Naturally gluten-free...”

As we are immersed in a veritable sea of gluten-free products, the resources available to us also grows. One of the best ways to find out more about a gluten-free lifestyle is by attending events dedicated to all things gluten-free. 

And, in just a few weeks, on Sunday, Nov. 17, one of the newest kids on the gluten-free event block, the Gluten Free Garage , will take place at the gorgeous and intimate Wychwood Barns.

LPK’s has been fortunate enough to participate in the first two Gluten Free Garage events, and I’m very much looking forward to taking part in the third one.

So because the timing was perfect, and I thought it’d be great to drum up even more publicity for this wonderful event, I sat down with RonnyLin Pustil (founder of Gluten Free Garage, and mother of seven-year-old Lily, a confirmed celiac) to find out more about this smash hit of an event, and how it got started in the first place. 

Here’s what we talked about:

Are you or someone in your family gluten-free? Was it a difficult adjustment?

Yes. We found out four years ago that our daughter, Lily, was celiac so we immediately transformed our house into a 100 per cent gluten-free environment.

At the time, it was a huge adjustment for us (my husband and me); we didn’t even know what gluten was. We were overwhelmed by the new diet and all changes that had to be made. Spontaneity was a big one; for example we couldn’t just pull over and eat anywhere anymore. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what gluten/gluten-free is.

It was less of an adjustment for Lily though, since she was only three. She missed a few things like Goldfish crackers and croissants at the beginning.

We bought everything gluten-free we could find, and a lot of it tasted terrible. We found our favourites though, and they soon became staples in our household.

I’m happy and relieved that it (celiac) was caught early, and that she didn’t suffer long with symptoms.

Do you cook and bake a lot, or do you buy prepared gluten-free food?  

I do bake and cook, although I baked a lot more before we went gluten free. Some of the things I bake now are banana cake, lemon loaf, coconut brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Pancakes are a staple in our house, and we eat a lot of eggs.

We also eat cereals, but they tend to have a lot of sugar in them, and that’s a concern, so now I make my own granola, which is a big hit with everyone.

After buying everything in the beginning so Lily wouldn’t free deprived, and finding much of it didn’t taste good, I started really reading labels and saw how much garbage was in some of the processed gluten-free foods. That was the initiative for seeking out more local, gluten-free food, and knowing what goes into food. We also buy fresh food from smaller artisanal food producers and bakers.

How do you handle going out to eat?

Going out – we have our favourites:  Hibiscus (100 per cent gluten-free), Off the Hook, Lady Marmalade (gluten-free friendly), CocoaLatte (gluten-free friendly), Magic Oven, Fresh, Live and Banfi (the owner is Celiac so the staff is well educated about gluten free). We also like going out for sushi, but bring our own gluten-free tamari.

I also call ahead and ask a million questions, to make sure they can accommodate us.

How did Gluten Free Garage originate?

In finding local gluten-free businesses and bakeries, I thought it’d be amazing to bring all these finds together in one place so other people who need to eat gluten-free can see what Toronto has to offer.

What sets Gluten Free Garage apart from other events is that vendors are curated, and the number of vendors is limited.

I had never done an event before; I just felt motivated and excited about it!

Why have Gluten Free Garage at Wychwood Barns?

We visit the farmers’ market at Wychwood every weekend. I could see the event being there right away. I also wanted Gluten Free Garage to have the vibe of a market instead of a trade event at a convention centre.

Some have criticized Gluten Free Garage for charging an entrance fee unnecessarily. Why not have a free event like the Vegetarian Food Festival?

There are a lot of costs associated with event, and we do have to recoup them. However, it’s only $10, and kids 12 and under get in free.  This gets you get access to more than 60 vendors, tons of free samples, access to guest speakers and a really cute tote bag (said with a smile).

I’m very excited about our guest speakers this time: Maggie Savage (blogger of She Let Them Eat Cake), who will be speaking about “Gluten-free in the House”, Joy McCarthy (RHN, owner Joyous Health) and Ricki Heller (whole foods chef, author of many books including her new book Naturally Sweet & Gluten-free).

I’m also really excited about the food trucks: Gourmet B1tches (100 per cent gluten free) and Hero Burger (who are thoroughly cleaning their truck before the event to prevent cross-contamination).

How do you choose vendors for Gluten Free Garage?  Has this changed since the first event in November of 2012?

The first thing I did, and still do, is go on a treasure hunt for products, bakeries, farmers’ markets and to local food events (e.g. Vegetarian Food Festival, Soupalicious). I also wanted a mix of vendors and products – not just baked goods but also savoury, skincare and more.

I spoke to other people as well, came up with list, and then I pursued the people on that list.

Now, I like to give previous vendors first right of refusal, then extend to other places. There are many companies who’ve contacted Gluten Free Garage, and there are always new things coming up.

The criteria for being chosen to be a vendor hasn’t changed:

1. It has to taste good (even better if it’s “Lily approved”).

2. I won’t say every product is good for you, but it has to be healthier to be at this event. For example, I had some pasta companies approach us for sponsorship, and we chose Italpasta because they use non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn in their gluten-free pasta.

3. A lot of vendors are very health and social conscious Earth and City, RawFoodz, Belmonte Raw), and we have some great catering companies coming this time (Urban Acorn, Hearty Catering, My Little Chickpea). We also have Organic Works Bakery (I love their bread), and we have the best gluten-free bakers in town.

4. Ultimately, all vendors have to make products we would have in our home, so not just gluten free but also celiac friendly.

• How do you think gluten-free foods are changing as more and more people become aware of gluten-free intolerances and celiac disease? Does “gluten-free” mean “healthy” and “good for you”?

There’s more out there, but not all of it is good for you. The market is becoming saturated, so it’s important to read labels and not just buy stuff because it’s gluten free.

It’s also not about depriving yourself. So we try and seek out the healthier versions of gluten-free foods.

Clearly a lot of thought, personal experience and desire to keep her daughter, Lily, well fed and nourished have been inspiration and motivation for RonnyLin and the Gluten Free Garage team. 

So, whether you’re new to gluten-free, or are on the lookout for healthier, artisanal, and locally made gluten-free options, make plans to immerse yourself in gluten-free goodness at the third semi-annual Gluten Free Garage Sunday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See you there!

---

Lesia Kohut is an eco-pastry chef, social entrepreneur and founder of LPK’s Culinary Groove - Toronto’s first organic pastry and chocolate shop, and home of the award-winning Vanilla, and Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars. Lesia has been vegetarian since age 15, and believes in eating local, organic, sustainable fare. She is an active supporter of local, organic farmers markets, and is constantly inspired by farmers and food artisans. Lesia is a proponent of building awareness through community, especially by knowing who and where our food comes from, and reminds everyone whenever she can that vegan and gluten-free can and does taste amazing. Contact her at lesia@lpksculinarygroove.com

FOOD - Gluten-free Goodness at the Gluten Free Garage

Blog Post Nov 04, 2013

By Lesia D. Kohut

Gluten-free is all the rage at the moment. From new products lining store shelves to farmers’ market vendors introducing gluten-free products at the markets, to ads for bacon with taglines like “Naturally gluten-free...”

As we are immersed in a veritable sea of gluten-free products, the resources available to us also grows. One of the best ways to find out more about a gluten-free lifestyle is by attending events dedicated to all things gluten-free. 

And, in just a few weeks, on Sunday, Nov. 17, one of the newest kids on the gluten-free event block, the Gluten Free Garage , will take place at the gorgeous and intimate Wychwood Barns.

LPK’s has been fortunate enough to participate in the first two Gluten Free Garage events, and I’m very much looking forward to taking part in the third one.

So because the timing was perfect, and I thought it’d be great to drum up even more publicity for this wonderful event, I sat down with RonnyLin Pustil (founder of Gluten Free Garage, and mother of seven-year-old Lily, a confirmed celiac) to find out more about this smash hit of an event, and how it got started in the first place. 

Here’s what we talked about:

Are you or someone in your family gluten-free? Was it a difficult adjustment?

Yes. We found out four years ago that our daughter, Lily, was celiac so we immediately transformed our house into a 100 per cent gluten-free environment.

At the time, it was a huge adjustment for us (my husband and me); we didn’t even know what gluten was. We were overwhelmed by the new diet and all changes that had to be made. Spontaneity was a big one; for example we couldn’t just pull over and eat anywhere anymore. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what gluten/gluten-free is.

It was less of an adjustment for Lily though, since she was only three. She missed a few things like Goldfish crackers and croissants at the beginning.

We bought everything gluten-free we could find, and a lot of it tasted terrible. We found our favourites though, and they soon became staples in our household.

I’m happy and relieved that it (celiac) was caught early, and that she didn’t suffer long with symptoms.

Do you cook and bake a lot, or do you buy prepared gluten-free food?  

I do bake and cook, although I baked a lot more before we went gluten free. Some of the things I bake now are banana cake, lemon loaf, coconut brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Pancakes are a staple in our house, and we eat a lot of eggs.

We also eat cereals, but they tend to have a lot of sugar in them, and that’s a concern, so now I make my own granola, which is a big hit with everyone.

After buying everything in the beginning so Lily wouldn’t free deprived, and finding much of it didn’t taste good, I started really reading labels and saw how much garbage was in some of the processed gluten-free foods. That was the initiative for seeking out more local, gluten-free food, and knowing what goes into food. We also buy fresh food from smaller artisanal food producers and bakers.

How do you handle going out to eat?

Going out – we have our favourites:  Hibiscus (100 per cent gluten-free), Off the Hook, Lady Marmalade (gluten-free friendly), CocoaLatte (gluten-free friendly), Magic Oven, Fresh, Live and Banfi (the owner is Celiac so the staff is well educated about gluten free). We also like going out for sushi, but bring our own gluten-free tamari.

I also call ahead and ask a million questions, to make sure they can accommodate us.

How did Gluten Free Garage originate?

In finding local gluten-free businesses and bakeries, I thought it’d be amazing to bring all these finds together in one place so other people who need to eat gluten-free can see what Toronto has to offer.

What sets Gluten Free Garage apart from other events is that vendors are curated, and the number of vendors is limited.

I had never done an event before; I just felt motivated and excited about it!

Why have Gluten Free Garage at Wychwood Barns?

We visit the farmers’ market at Wychwood every weekend. I could see the event being there right away. I also wanted Gluten Free Garage to have the vibe of a market instead of a trade event at a convention centre.

Some have criticized Gluten Free Garage for charging an entrance fee unnecessarily. Why not have a free event like the Vegetarian Food Festival?

There are a lot of costs associated with event, and we do have to recoup them. However, it’s only $10, and kids 12 and under get in free.  This gets you get access to more than 60 vendors, tons of free samples, access to guest speakers and a really cute tote bag (said with a smile).

I’m very excited about our guest speakers this time: Maggie Savage (blogger of She Let Them Eat Cake), who will be speaking about “Gluten-free in the House”, Joy McCarthy (RHN, owner Joyous Health) and Ricki Heller (whole foods chef, author of many books including her new book Naturally Sweet & Gluten-free).

I’m also really excited about the food trucks: Gourmet B1tches (100 per cent gluten free) and Hero Burger (who are thoroughly cleaning their truck before the event to prevent cross-contamination).

How do you choose vendors for Gluten Free Garage?  Has this changed since the first event in November of 2012?

The first thing I did, and still do, is go on a treasure hunt for products, bakeries, farmers’ markets and to local food events (e.g. Vegetarian Food Festival, Soupalicious). I also wanted a mix of vendors and products – not just baked goods but also savoury, skincare and more.

I spoke to other people as well, came up with list, and then I pursued the people on that list.

Now, I like to give previous vendors first right of refusal, then extend to other places. There are many companies who’ve contacted Gluten Free Garage, and there are always new things coming up.

The criteria for being chosen to be a vendor hasn’t changed:

1. It has to taste good (even better if it’s “Lily approved”).

2. I won’t say every product is good for you, but it has to be healthier to be at this event. For example, I had some pasta companies approach us for sponsorship, and we chose Italpasta because they use non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn in their gluten-free pasta.

3. A lot of vendors are very health and social conscious Earth and City, RawFoodz, Belmonte Raw), and we have some great catering companies coming this time (Urban Acorn, Hearty Catering, My Little Chickpea). We also have Organic Works Bakery (I love their bread), and we have the best gluten-free bakers in town.

4. Ultimately, all vendors have to make products we would have in our home, so not just gluten free but also celiac friendly.

• How do you think gluten-free foods are changing as more and more people become aware of gluten-free intolerances and celiac disease? Does “gluten-free” mean “healthy” and “good for you”?

There’s more out there, but not all of it is good for you. The market is becoming saturated, so it’s important to read labels and not just buy stuff because it’s gluten free.

It’s also not about depriving yourself. So we try and seek out the healthier versions of gluten-free foods.

Clearly a lot of thought, personal experience and desire to keep her daughter, Lily, well fed and nourished have been inspiration and motivation for RonnyLin and the Gluten Free Garage team. 

So, whether you’re new to gluten-free, or are on the lookout for healthier, artisanal, and locally made gluten-free options, make plans to immerse yourself in gluten-free goodness at the third semi-annual Gluten Free Garage Sunday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See you there!

---

Lesia Kohut is an eco-pastry chef, social entrepreneur and founder of LPK’s Culinary Groove - Toronto’s first organic pastry and chocolate shop, and home of the award-winning Vanilla, and Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars. Lesia has been vegetarian since age 15, and believes in eating local, organic, sustainable fare. She is an active supporter of local, organic farmers markets, and is constantly inspired by farmers and food artisans. Lesia is a proponent of building awareness through community, especially by knowing who and where our food comes from, and reminds everyone whenever she can that vegan and gluten-free can and does taste amazing. Contact her at lesia@lpksculinarygroove.com