Best of the Fest: Gluten-Free Expo 2017 - West Coast Food

By Catherine Dunwoody

Canada Place hosted the largest gluten-free food trade show in the country recently, the Gluten Free Expo. An opportunity for the consumer to stop and sample the wares and gain information at the many booths, plus check out some cooking demos and presentations – all geared to folks with gluten-allergies or sensitivities.

Newly diagnosed with celiac disease myself, this show intrigued me both professionally and personally as a food writer with a rather refined palette trying to navigate this New Year eating gluten-free. Here’s my ‘best of the fest’ – products I tried and thought worth sharing, and mostly made right here on Canada’s west coast.

Naked Coconuts from Vancouver makes soy-free teriyaki sauces.  Not only gf, but also soy-free, this organic, non-GMO, sauce has that salty, umami flavour we crave when it’s stir-fry time, and this one has 65% less sodium too.

Free Yumm cookies and bars bake their goodies in North Vancouver, and are especially geared to kids with food allergies, often deprived of the yummy baked goods their friends enjoy. Double chocolate cookies, blueberry oat bars and more mean adults love them too.

Hippie Snacks from Hippie Foods in Burnaby had a few goodies to try, but the Nearly Naked Coconut Clusters were that ideal blend of salty / sweet. I would throw these on a salad or eat nibbled from the bowl.

Based in Burnaby, Quesava Kitchen, known for their Brazilian Quejos buns have a bake-at-home dough that means veggie poppers may appear at my house next time I host a wine and cheese party. The cheese, garlic and spring onion flavour was a warm, melty-cheese-in-the-middle treat.

Wendel’s True Foods started off as a café in Langley, and has expanded to a bakery brand sold at every major grocery store in BC. How does gf black forest cake, apple pie, or ginger cookies sound? I thought so…..

NextJen is a brand started by Vancouver Chef Jenn Peters and her partner Chef Hamid Salimian (of Earls restaurants). Flours, mixes and doughs you make at home, including pizza dough, vanilla bean cake and sprouted buckwheat pancake and waffle mix.

Most kettle chips are gf, but oftentimes the powdered flavourings they add are not, nor are the kitchens they make the products at safe from cross contact. Neal Brothers is a brand based out east that clearly knows lucky we BC lower mainlanders are with Vikram Vij’s restaurants right in Surrey and Vancouver, thus introducing Vij’s Delhi-cious kettle chips. Namaste in with a bag of these on movie night.

Delish Gluten Free is a bakery based in Port Coquitlam, but you can find their goodies at farmers markets all over the lower mainland. Try the Quinoa Carrot Cake Muffins.

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