Best Gluten Free Eats in Vancouver 

Having been diagnosed as Celiac two and a half years ago, it has taken some getting used to. Travelling to new cities is always hard because I have to find new places that can accommodate my needs but also don’t taste like cardboard. I’ve found a few here and there, but now that I’m back in Vancouver, I can revisit my favourite places for a bite.

1. Scandilicious

Okay. Gluten. Free. Waffles. What more could you need in the world? There’s like a gazillion things you can eat here and they know what they’re talking about when it comes to gluten. These waffles are crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside. They’re a little bit sweeter than your average waffle, which I swear makes the savory waffles so much better because it balances out the salt.

My Pick: Savory – The West Coast Waffle (sub GF waffle) | Sweet – Veganessa

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2. The Mexican

This isn’t specific to the Mexican, I suppose. But it is my favourite spot for Mexican eats. The nice thing about Mexican and Latin cuisine is that they tend to use corn flour for most things rather than wheat flour. This makes it waaay easier for us gluten free girls (and guys) to have a large selection.

My Pick: Enfrijoladas (add chicken)

3. SMAK

The nice thing about SMAK is that everything there is gluten free. I don’t love anything there, but I do enjoy that it’s a quick spot for lunch, with a nice atmosphere and a strictly gluten free menu. I also love that it’s local to Vancouver, because who doesn’t love supporting local businesses?!

My Pick: Coconut Pork Bowl (sub for Quinoa)

4. Freshii

Okay, I know – I didn’t try Freshii actually until I was in Ottawa. I actively avoided it because it sounded like just another healthy chain, which I was not on board with. The nice thing about travelling though, is that you try new things. So I tried Freshii for lunch one day.. and then went back the next day.. and a couple more times that week. Freshii is not dedicated gluten free, but they know exactly what they’re talking about. The food is fresh, feels good for you but doesn’t TASTE good for you. The winning combination.

My Pick: Oaxaca Bowl with Chicken (No wontons, sub for cilantro-lime sauce)

5. Cartems Donuterie

Cartems was like a god send when I discovered it. I had just been diagnosed and therefore very disappointed with every gluten free product I could find. I had heard some babble around town about a shop downtown that had gluten free donuts. I was obviously intrigued. When I tried it I knew immediately it was going to be a problem. Their donuts are dense, yes – but they are also moist and delicious. No cardboard here.

My Pick: Honestly, they’re all good. Try all of them.

6. Two Daughters Bakeshop

I have found few really good gluten free bakeries over the years. Two Daughters is the only one I have found in the Greater Vancouver Area that I would genuinely recommend. I have by no means tried everything they offer, but everything I have tried has been delicious. The kind of delicious where you forget you’re eating a gluten free dessert.

My Pick: Banana Bread and Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

There’s also so many good chains that offer great gluten free menus. I tend to frequent Cactus Club, White Spot and Carlos O’Briens for an easy night out with friends or a working lunch.

What are your favourite Gluten Free spots on the Lower Mainland?

*none of the photos used in the article are my own, and I do not assume credit for them*

I Didn’t Always Feel like a Feminist

I know, this sounds bad. I never felt that men should be superior, but I did feel like the feminist movement was following a trend I wasn’t on board with. I didn’t like the feeling I got that feminists were fighting for woman to be greater than men. I always have completely believed in equality and for a point in my life I felt like we were.

Sure, I was young and naive – but mostly, I was wrong and I didn’t understand. I believed being a woman gave me an upper hand in certain aspects. I looked at my life and how for what I did, we were all women, and men were rarely seen doing what I did. As time went on I started to notice that the reason men didn’t do what I did, was because I was working for men. The men in my industry were the executives.

I had a traditionally good job as an assistant. A career fully saturated with strong women, but we kept our heads down and did our jobs. I felt that I accomplished this amazing feat because I was a woman. What I didn’t think about was that if I were a man, I would have people like me working for me.

That was when I took a step back from the industry I was working in and started looking for ways I could be a boss. A lady boss. I started down a few different paths, where I could see strong women leading the field. I’ve found multiple passions since then, and I’ve been so amazed to look to other independent women as role models.

Through politics, I learn from women who are outstanding in our field. They taking every task by the horns, and do an amazing job time after time. I’m beyond impressed with the drive and determination of the ladies I work with on that side. Through social media I am exposed to hundreds of bloggers and influencers who have come together to build each other up and help each other grow. I’m in awe of what we as a gender can accomplish by working together. I don’t feel like these women are using me as a stepping stone to success, I feel like these women are my teammates on our way to the top.

I’m so excited to continue down this path, and let the fierce female in me shine.

Listen to the Signs the Universe Sends You

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I love being in control, but some things are so far out of my hands. This is the case for all of us. In these moments it’s important to accept that it’s time to step back and look at what they could mean, and re-evaluate your path.

When you find yourself continuously knocking at the same door and having no one answer, it may be time to consider knocking on another door. This is not at all to say give up on your dreams, just take a step back and re-evaluate. It’s so easy to get so absorbed in chasing your goals, that you forget why you were passionate about them in the first place. I like to remember to check in with myself from time to time and make sure my goals still align with my core values.

I had goals to find a job in Ottawa, and I kept feeling so close. I had an offer that got revoked and I had promising interviews that never lead anywhere. In those moments I wanted so desperately to just not fail but I didn’t know if succeeding was what I wanted either. At the end of the day, I didn’t succeed in landing an impressive job in a city I don’t love. I did, however succeed in making a decision to trust my heart and making the best decisions for me.

I kept asking myself why I thought these things didn’t work out. I know that there must have been applicants who were more qualified than I am – if I was the best applicant, I would have landed the jobs. But I also reminded myself that the universe works in mysterious ways, and if I was meant to be here doing that, I would have been the best applicant.

Anti-Lifestyle: Staying True to Yourself vs. Staying True to Your Brand 

I knew from the get go that moving to Ottawa would be great for my brand. I kept reminding myself that the market here is less saturated so there’s more room to stand out. I knew that I would generate great content by adjusting to a new city and I knew you guys would love the realness associated with big changes. I even went as far as writing myself a list months ago about all the topics I could write about once arriving here.

I also knew that doing something because it would be good for my brand, even though it was against my truest wishes was very against brand for me. I found myself torn, I knew that I would have great opportunities to work on my passion if I stayed in Ottawa, the kind that I can’t get in such a big city like Vancouver. There are blogger events and companies that want to work with someone my size in Ottawa. That’s not the case in Vancouver.

It has become clear to me though, that if I stay in Ottawa to grow my network, I would have to put on an act, and lie about how I was adjusting. I would have to go back to being the girl who advertised her perfect lifestyle when some things didn’t feel perfect. I could recreate the narrative of falling aimlessly through space and time. I could tell you that it feels like flying rather than feels like spiraling out of control. I could tell you that I’m finding myself in the new hustle and that I finally found a place to land.

That is very strongly against my brand. My brand is staying true to me and being an advocate for honesty and reality. I’m not here to sell you a lifestyle that isn’t real, raw and full of passionate joy and passionate pain. At the end of the day, I have to stay aligned with my beliefs not because it’s my brand, but because it’s myself.

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The Art of Settling In

I’m not talking about settling, or settling down because I’m absolutely not doing either of those. What I am talking about is settling in, adjusting to changes. This period of my life has been full of changes, from moving to not moving and back and forth I have been making adjustment after adjustment until landing exactly where I am. I’m not settling into Ottawa, I’m settling into the idea of what my life is now. My life is in Ottawa, and my life is in Vancouver. I’m settling into the idea of my life not going perfectly according to a certain plan.

I’ve always taken a while to settle in. When I moved to Victoria my heart was in Vernon, when I moved to Vancouver my heart was in Victoria and it hurt me so much to settle into a new life. This time I’m in Ottawa, but my heart’s in Vancouver and I’ve decided I don’t want to settle into a new life. I’m happy with where I am, and I’m happy to settle into my new normal but in my old home.

Settling in is about accepting where you are, and adjusting to the changes, big or small. Settling in is finding your routine amongst all the moving parts and finding where your heart sings the most. It just so happens for me, my heart sings in Vancouver, and I’m happy to settle in there. Not settling, and not quite settling down – which is what I would be doing if decided to move. I’m settling into a life, where for the first time, I put myself first.

Taking my Hands off the Wheel 

I’m a planner, I’ve always been a planner. I like everything in my life to be laid out and organized in just a certain way. I like knowing what’s next and having a timeline for everything. Over the past month, I have not been able to have control over every any aspect of my life. I have fully taken my hands off the wheel lately for the first time in my life.

Everyone said it would feel freeing, and that I would enjoy the aspect of uncertainty. That I wouldn’t be able to go back to being in control of everything. This was a bold faced lie. I hate not being in control, and I feel terrified and uncomfortable with everything that comes my way. I need a plan.

That all being said, not having a plan has given me opportunities over the past month that I never would have had otherwise. I never would have ended up at the most beautiful B&B in the world, I never would have seen as much of PEI as I did and I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t have driven all the way across Canada for Canada 150 and I wouldn’t have met the amazing people I’ve met so far.

I’m over it though. As wonderful as this experience has been, it’s very clearly not for me. Please bear with me as I embark on the journey of planning the next phase of my life.

I Wished Away my Entire Summer

Summer started late this year in Vancouver – I feel like it didn’t warm up and stop raining until around June. I spent the first two weeks of June wishing it was the 16th so that I could finally go to England.

When we got back from England, it was almost July. July came with a whole new set of challenges and wishing away. The first two weeks of July I kept wishing for August so I could finally leave Vancouver. The second two weeks I wished for August so the packing would be finished.

In August, I wished for July. I wished for more time at home, more time with the people I loved and more time in our perfect apartment.

In August I also wished for September. I wished for a sense of home, a sense of routine. I wished for my independence and I wished for pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters.

Now that it’s September, I wish for June, July and August. I wish I didn’t wish away the whole summer.

My Gluten-Free Travel Guide to Prince Edward Island

As my three weeks in this beautiful province comes to a close I wanted to recap my summer experience on the island. We’re hopping on a plane in Moncton early tomorrow morning to head back to Ottawa in time for Seb’s schooling.

I hope you guys enjoy this format of a travel blog as I’m still trying to find my footing and figure out the best way to sum up my trips.

What I Did

1. Beaches, beaches and more beaches

PEI is known across the country for its beautiful beaches, and it did not disappoint. We probably went to the beach half a dozen times and never the same one twice. I was lucky enough to have some amazing tour guides to take me to the most secluded beaches. From white, singing sand to the famous red sand I was in love with every single seashore adventure we were on.

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2. Point Prim Lighthouse

I’ve always been fascinated with lighthouses, but rarely got to see one in real life. Point Prim is not only accessible to get up close and personal with, you can actually go inside and climb all the way up to the top. An experience I won’t soon forget.

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3. Cows Factory Tour

Cows ice cream is nothing to scoff at – it’s divine and everyone knows that. Their factory tour on the other hand, albeit free, was absolutely something we should have skipped. Self-guided tours are fine, but walking down a short hallway to look into empty rooms with no explanation was not worth the trip. Luckily we got ice cream at the end and it was all worth it.

Aside from ice cream, Cows has some awesome snacks. We indulged in some healthy servings of Cow Chips (chocolate covered potato chips) and Lucky Fox’s PEI Mix which consists of caramel corn and potato chips. The caramel was made with Cows Creamery butter – amazing.

4. Downtown Charlottetown and Peakes Quay

I have never met a quay I didn’t like, and Peakes Quay was no exception. It was disgustingly tourist geared which allowed me to find the perfect set of lobster earrings. I also got to pose with a man-sized lobster and wear a lobster hat. Aside from all the tackiness which I obviously embraced, there were very cool local shops throughout downtown and the quay that I really enjoyed. It was a lovely day of exploring a new city.

5. Charlottetown Farmers Market

The farmers market here runs Saturdays and Wednesdays during the summer. It’s partly indoor and partly outdoor and it all local artisans. The dumpling lady has THE BEST sticky rice I’ve had in over a decade. Yes, better than sticky rice in Richmond. Unfortunately I didn’t get the names of any of the businesses in there, but there was also an amazing cheese stand where we got mustard and black pepper infused Gouda. Yes, it was amazing.

Where I Ate

1. Cedars Eatery

This is a well-established Lebanese spot in Charlottetown. They had quite a few gluten free options clearly labelled on the menu here. I did not feel like I was an inconvenience when I ordered. We shared the Kafta and the House Chicken. The Kafta was SO GOOD, I would recommend this to literally everyone.

2. PEI Preserve Company

This place was probably almost definitely a tourist trap in New Glasgow – I’m not mad at all about it though. They had SO MANY gluten free options, and the prices were completely reasonable. They have a shop of locally made goodies in the front while you wait, and there was a bit of a wait when we went. The buzzer they gave me for our table was a small plastic lobster that vibrated and flashed red when our table was ready. My opinion may be totally biased based on the light up lobster alone – but I think the food was excellent too.

I had a potato pie (obviously) which was essentially cheesy scalloped potatoes in a crust made of bacon. I don’t know what else you need to know – it was amazing. I also got the corner piece which meant more bacon, so I’m now a believer. They also had probably half a dozen gluten free dessert options. From daily gluten free cake specials, to tiramisu, to what I ordered – a Baileys chocolate cheesecake. I’m in love.

3. Famous Peppers

I don’t actually have anything valuable to say about the service here or anything like that, as I didn’t order it or pick it up. When we first arrived on the island, Seb’s mom had already picked it up and had it waiting for us (bless her heart). She ordered two gluten free pizzas, again, I don’t know what they were. One had chicken on it and it was good, the other was LOADED with bacon and ground beef and it was SPECTACULAR. Up there with Oggi’s and The Parlour’s gluten free pizzas in my books.

4. Churchill Arms

This spot does not have a designated gluten free menu, and they do not guarantee anything. They have curries and salads that they say are the only things they would consider gluten free on the menu. The things is, I always gamble on fries – they’re just worth it for me. I had the curry chips (with cheese) twice here – I didn’t notice a reaction aside from what any normal person would feel after eating curry and cheese smothered on french fries. It was amazingly gross.

5. Ta-Ke Sushi

This place was bomb. I didn’t expect anything phenomenal ahead of time, but I was pleasantly surprised by its authenticity. We made the mistake of not telling them that I was Celiac before ordering an entire party platter, and panicked once they started drizzling sauces all over the rolls. The staff was lovely enough to make me a separate box of strictly gluten free rolls, and didn’t even charge us for it. It was absolutely our fault, but they went above and beyond to accommodate me. No tamari here though, so bring your own.

6. Fishbones Oyster Bar & Grill

I seriously debated even writing about this place as I don’t like saying negative things about places on the internet, but it’s not all bad. Fishbones did have a great gluten free selection on their menu, and I got so excited that we opted for 3 gluten free appies rather than an entree. We had the potato nachos, fried chicken and seafood chowder. All of which were gluten free. Personally, I loved the fried chicken, but it was a very, very small amount of chicken over a lot of fries. The seafood chowder was really good (and cream based), but even after specifying it was a gluten allergy, it still arrived with bread on it. They removed the bread, and offered to re-plate it but I felt like I would be a huge inconvenience if I asked for a new serving all together. I chanced it, and just avoided that side of the bowl as the chowder was thick, I got lucky this time – but I would have hoped they would be more cautious. Lastly, the potato nachos were fine, but they were covered in a cheez-whiz like sauce and lacking in real cheese. All in all this restaurant was fine and had a really diverse gluten free selection. I would just caution celiacs to be firm in stating their allergy here.

What I Drank

1. No Boats on Sunday

There’s not a lot of Ciders on the east coast, especially not local ones but I discovered the No Boats on Sunday cider from Nova Scotia and that’s been essentially what I’ve been drinking exclusively since being here.

2. Canada 150 Fizz

I also discovered this cocktail called the Canada 150 Fizz while out at the Point Prim Chowder House. It’s sparkling wine and Rossignol Cassiz from right here on PEI. It’s not too sweet and it’s so so good.

Homesick for a Reality That’s No Longer Mine 

We all know this feeling, it’s like nostalgia but more overwhelming at times.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes” – Ed Panar

Almost a month ago, Seb and I packed up our lives and sent them to a couple different places. I have stuff in Ottawa, stuff here with me in PEI and stuff in Vancouver, I have so much stuff and no where to put it. Last night I stayed up late and looked through old photos. Photos from when Seb and I first moved in to our one bedroom, photos of my friends and I in Victoria and in the early Vancouver days.

I miss my friends and I miss my family, but I also know they haven’t gone anywhere and I can see them again soon. What I’m homesick for the most though is my apartment. An apartment that isn’t mine anymore, someone else lives there now. I’m not just homesick for the walls, and the way the sunlight danced throughout the entire space, I’m homesick for being there, listening to Foy Vance on vinyl with Seb. I’m homesick for having my routine in my safe space, with Seb, my friends and family.

Simply put, I’m homesick for a life that will never exist again. I can stay in Ottawa and have a home with Seb, or I can go to Vancouver and have a home with friends and family – but no matter where I go, I can’t have it all. I’m homesick for May. I’m homesick for June. I’m homesick for July. I’m homesick for when I had it all.

I suppose all I have left to do now, is create a life I will be homesick for the next time the tides change.