There’s been several things that I’ve learned since having to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle due to my severe gluten-intolerance.
- You’re gonna have to do a lot more shopping for supplies
- You will likely have to become a “promiscuous shopper”.
- It’s best if you familiarize yourself with whats out there.
… well, if you live in larger centers, then you might not have to be so promiscuous when it comes to shopping to accommodate a food allergy or dietary restriction, but if you live here in the St. John’s and surrounding areas you can expect the need to shop around in order to find all of your groceries.
First, lets look at Supermarkets.
Not only does the variety in the Natural Food Section (or as I lovingly refer to it as, “The Freaky People Aisle”) vary between Supermarket chains … it also varies within each chain.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a creature of habit. So I’ve always stuck to Sobey’s stores … and in addition, I’ve also gravitated to the same location. I like familiarity and efficiency. The minute I have to go to a different store I feel like I’ve landed in “Shelbyville” and I suddenly can’t find the items that I’m looking for as easy as I would in my regular store . I end up getting distracted, it takes me twice if not three times as long to find what I’m looking for, and if my guy is waiting for me in the car …. I can expect to receive “Focus!!” texts to ensure that I’m not dillydallying and stay on task.
That all changed when I discovered my food intolerance.
Over time I realized that Dominion has a great selection in their Freaky People Aisle. So I now break up my shopping between Sobeys and Dominion. I also realized that the selection varies from Sobeys store to Sobeys store (and similarly with Dominion). What would show up in the freezer section in one location, might show up on shelves in another. Dominion’s brand, President’s Choice has introduced it’s own gluten-free line and these products show in the regular bakery section. At my regular Sobey’s location, delicious Udi’s products show up in the bakery section whereas in other locations I have to go to the “Freaky People” freezer section.
- Scoping out the various supermarket chains and various locations to see what products you are interested in.
When you are ready to restock your pantry, you know exactly where to head to successfully find your favourite products; and
- Making note of the days where the natural food shelves/produce/dairy /meat & poultry sections are restocked.
I find that the poultry section seems to be better stocked on a certain day but there’s a slim chance that I’ll find my favourite variety of Greek yogurt in stock.
Nourish Gluten-Free Bakery
When I was first advised by my “Quack” (i.e. Naturopath) to go gluten-free, the first thing that she recommended was that I check out the newly opened 100% gluten-free bakery, Nourish in Paradise. I enjoy their selection of bagels, tea buns, flatbreads, brownies and various other goodies. I also enjoy Ashley, the owner & operator, who I’ve interacted with on many occasions since I first became a customer. I like that they use all natural ingredients and avoid preservatives. You can purchase from them directly, or you can order a limited number of their products online from Real Food Market which I’ll discuss next. You can also enjoy several of their products when dining out around town. One of the places not mentioned on their list is Post Espresso where you can enjoy several of their tea buns, lemon loaves, coffee cakes and brownies (on occasion) to go with their delicious espresso based drinks.
Real Food Market
I first learned of Real Food Market from my Chiropractor of all places, lol. He had mentioned that he had a patient who was in the process of starting up an online organic market for the St. John’s area and asked if I would like to pass along my info to that person. He couldn’t provide me her name at the time but I did give him permission to share my info and Melissa later contacted me once he mentioned me and the fact that I want to start a restaurant that caters to people with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Melissa has been great to chat both in person and via email.
Real Food Market is an online organic grocery store that either delivers direct to your door, or allows pickup at their warehouse if you prefer. They have a dedicated Gluten-Free section as well as a dedicated Vegetarian/Vegan section. Within the Dairy, Gluten-Free, and Vegetarian/Vegan sections you’ll also find a Butter & Butter Substitute sub-section. Dairy milk substitutes are found in a sub-section in the Vegetarian/Vegan section. Check out the Vegetarian/Vegan section for all of the available sub-sections.
From my experience, the Gluten-Free section tends to be items that are marketed as gluten-free. I’ve found other products in the non-GF sections that were naturally gluten-free and confirmed to be so after digging further into the companies website/email. Check out the other sections and if there’s something that interests you, do some research to see if it is in fact, safe for you to eat.
I would never have thought to check Winners Homesense for Gluten-Free, organic or alternative foods. My neighbour’s sister worked at Winners Homesense in the Avalon Mall for a period of time and she mentioned to me that her sister had said that there were gluten-free items available there. Sure enough, I discovered that they also have a “freaky people aisle”. The only thing is that it’s never consistent. You’ll find that the different locations carry different products and the selection various nearly every single time that you go. If you are there and you see a product that you like, snatch it up! … you’ll never know when you’ll find it in stock again. I liken their selection to that of a “grab bag” or “surprise package”.
I apologize to those of you who have been unsuccessful in finding CocoMira’s products. When I see these in stock … I stock up. I buy whatever is left on the shelves.
As a side note, I have since discovered that you can find Coco Mira products at Chapters (if not in store, it’s available on their website). If I happen to be buying books online from Chapters, I usually top up my order with Coco Mira if I haven’t already reached the free shipping status 😉
I had avoided Bulk Barn like the plague after going gluten free … The thought of the bins and potential cross-contamination terrified me. That is, until one day my co-worker asked if I knew that Bulk Barn had a dedicated Gluten-Free Section. My reaction was immediately “Is this a joke??” but sure enough, he advised that they actually have labels to identify the gluten-free item bins and they are all confined to one area. That weekend I checked it out, and not only were there dedicated gluten-free bins of bulk GF flours etc., but they were also carrying other packaged GF goods as well, such as Go-Go Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies which are my new go-to cookie. They have a variety of food alternative products that you can find in their “health food” section.
Health Food Stores
There are several Health Food Stores around the city that you can check out. My favourite would have to be Whole Health … mainly because it’s close to my office and I enjoy dropping in occasionally on my lunch break to pick up some GF snacks for my stash at my desk … and to also chat with Megan, the owner, who I also enjoy. Lovely girl! Other Health Food stores include The Natutral Health Shop on Stavanger Drive, and Food for Thought on Duckworth Street.
The St. John’s Farmer’s Market runs from June to mid December, and have several vendors which cater to various food allergies, one of which is Gluten Free Treasures because 1) the treats are delicious (especially the pumpkin cinnamon rolls!), and 2) Valeria is a sweetheart!
Other regular vendors who cater to dietary restrictions include: A La Tarte! and Le Doyen, to name a few. I DO NOT recommend getting a “Almost Gluten-Free” waffle from The Waffle Lady. She has a gluten-free waffle mix but uses it in the same waffles irons as the regular non-GF waffle mix. Anyone who have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance should not eat them. If you one of those who are eating gluten-free because it’s the new fad diet …. fill your boots. If you are gluten free because your health depends on it, stay away).
I don’t have a Costco membership myself, but from what my co-workers have told me they carry a lot of GF products, and I’ve seen that on the blog “Living Gluten Free in St. John’s, NL”, Janelle has many posts on gluten-free items that she’s picked up from Costco.
Various Online Websites
Well.ca is one site that a Facebook friend introduced me to. I enjoy that they have a dedicated Specialty Diet section which includes Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Vegan among several other sub-sections. They also provide free shipping on all Canadian orders over $25 (unless you live in a remote area).
The “Buddy System”
If you have friends travelling out of province or out of country, see if they would mind picking up a few items if they stumble across them in their travels. I have a good friend who I’ve met through the CCA-NL Chapter and every time she travels to Ontario or to the States, she always manages me bring me back some form of gluten-free goody … and if I’m really good, it might be several goodies … on one occasion she brought me back a basket full of goodies! I also get surprises from my non-GF friends and family as well. There is no shortage of cake mixes in my pantry! ha 🙂
Canadian Celiac Association Meetings
I’ve been a member of the CCA-NL since June of 2012… and I’ve yet to be to a meeting where I didn’t come home with free stuff. I’ve lost count the number of times that I’ve come home with free pancake-, cake-, pizza-, and bread-mixes. Who doesn’t love FREE??
So, what caused me to compile this useful list? My quest to find Certified GlutenFree Cornbread in the city. It was impossible to find any without a ‘May Contain’ statement. I could find Bob’s Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix, but not the coarser corn meal. I figured that when I was in Toronto recently that I’d be able to find it. The Whole Foods store near my friends house in Toronto were much like St. John’s in that the only versions that they carried had ‘May Contain’ statements. It should be noted that Bob’s Red Mill produces two versions of Corn Meal: a certified GF one and a NON-GF one. It took several attempts while in Toronto to find the GF version and I found it at the 3rd health food store that I visited. They had 2 packages of the Bob’s Red Mill certified GF Corn Meal and I stealthily “squirrelled” them up! 🙂
I hope that you find this list useful.
Let me know if you’ve found places around town or online that have helped you cope with your food allergies and dietary restrictions. I’d love to hear of them so I can amend this list.
Are you a promiscuous shopper??