The Vegetarian Food Festival is one of our favourite happenings in the city. It’s a fantastic foodie event for our daughter Lily, who has celiac disease, because there are so many healthy and delicious gluten-free offerings—many of them made locally!—that she can indulge in (this photo is from last year’s VegTO). This year we planned on heading out on Saturday but we weren’t brave enough to brave the rain. On Sunday morning the sun was shining as we did the Parkinson’s Walk. But after that Lily was too pooped to head down to Harbourfront Centre so I picked up my aunt Anne (aka Honey, she’s not vegan!), coach and therapist extraordinaire who’s visiting from Vancouver (coachinginanutshell.com), and we headed down to VegTO—with strict instructions from Lily to get some good stuff.
Our first stop: The Simply Bar. (Note: Vendors in this blog post are in order of appearance as we walked the show.) These gluten-free bars are like a healthy rice crispy treat. Key word: “healthy”—each bar contains 12 or less ingredients. Simply Bar’s bragging rights include vegan, high protein, low sugar, non-GMO and free of gluten, casein, dairy and additives. Simply put, they’re really good for you. And, with flavours like cocoa coffee and maple pecan, they taste good too! Simply Choices also makes protein chips and a new sweet protein crunch snack.
We made a beeline to Bunner’s, where we spotted co-owner Kevin MacAllister munching down on one of their vegan, gluten-free baked goods. Who can blame him?
We bought 3 Supersonic Cookies, knowing we’d need all the energy we could get to make our way through the festival. I polished off my cookie before we made it to the next booth.
The words “gluten free” beckoned us to another one of our favourite local companies doing wonders with gluten-free baking, Sweets from the Earth. My aunt Honey couldn’t make up her mind about what to get but I knew exactly what I was after…
Hello dolly! Come to mama!
Sweets’ owner Marc Kadonoff got some words of wisdom off his chest. As long as the cookies are gluten free, we couldn’t agree more.
Front Door Organics was sampling some sweet cherry tomatoes. Besides certified organic fruits and veggies, they also have a nice selection of gluten-free goods that they’ll deliver right to your door!
I knew I had to have this roasted beet quinoa the minute I laid my eyes on it! This pinkalicious dish from My Little Chickpea went down especially well with a side of raw kale salad with sesame seeds and orange ginger dressing. Aside from these super salads, My Little Chickpea (how cute is that name?) also makes gluten-free hummus and falafels! Now if only we could get a good gluten-free pita to stuff it all into…
We stopped by Marni Wasserman‘s booth to say hello to the culinary nutritionist herself. We’ve taken her Gourmet and Gluten Free cooking class before (and I highly recommend it) but haven’t had a chance yet to visit her brand-spanking-new plant-based cooking studio.
We are cuckoo for CocoVie! This local company produces 100% natural food and personal wellness products all made from coconuts. This superfood is rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are classified as a “functional food” because they pack many health benefits beyond their nutritional content. Hence, these pretty, colouful soaps!
If you like it hot, you have to try No7 Hot Sauce. This Mexican hot sauce, made with Ontario habanero peppers, is raw, vegan and preservative free. To heat things up at home I bought a bottle for my hubby.
We ran into No7’s Carlos Flores, the man behind this muy caliente blend, who introduced us to the good peeps below.
Urban Acorn was cooking up chickpea stacks on the BBQ, which they topped off with their signature “Pickliz,” a tangy, sweet slaw (pictured) and a dash of No7 Hot Sauce. It was so freaking delicious that we scarfed it up before I had a chance to even take my camera out (for a mouthwatering pic, click here). This is a catering company after my own heart—it specializes in flexitarian cuisine (carnivores and vegans unite!). From their website: “Flexitarians, or flexible vegetarians, follow a plant-based diet rich in nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables while still consuming moderate amounts of local or organic animal products such as eggs, honey and fish.” These food lovers also host monthly supper clubs and sell locally sourced packaged snacks.
Once inside, we ran into more of our tried-and-true favourite companies. Sunflower Kitchen‘s hummus and pesto are staples in our house.
Sher and Michelle—the brains and beauties behind Rawfoodz. Out of their seven different salad dressings, Glorious Greek and Sea-Zar Serenity are my faves.
Tonica Kombucha‘s Zoey Shumai was all smiles. We were lucky to grab the last two bottles of Vibrant Blueberry. Lily LOVES this naturally sparkling brew. And with its high counts of beneficial bacteria, digestive-aiding enzymes and minimal sugar, I’m happy to let her think that this is pop for as long as I can!
Nud Fud‘s Goji Energy crackers with a smear of almond or peanut butter are one of our go-to gluten-free snacks.
Giddy Yoyo‘s high-quality, nutrient-dense chocolate is obviously made with love. And I can assure you that their vanilla bean and salt chocolate was tasted with love by me! Raw, vegan, organic and gluten free, this chocolate is the real deal! It’s time to introduce this “food not candy” to the kids!
Gluten free was obviously in high demand at the Tori’s Bakeshop booth! We were soooo disappointed that they were sold out of their ba”con”—if you haven’t tried it, run, don’t walk, to their bakery in the Beaches!
And then there were two little gluten-free coconut cupcakes…
Earth & City is a farmers’ market find that I first discovered at the Wychwood Barns farmers’ market. Lisa and Cassandra make the most gorgeous, fresh, delicious seasonal food you can imagine. For some serious raw food porn, check out their website! My aunt Honey grabbed a container of their sunflower seed kale pesto. I don’t know why she didn’t get the onion flax flatbread to go with it. The macaroons featured in this photo are beloved by Lily.
Pretty spring roll wraps from Earth & City.
More specifically, their gluten-free mac & “cheese” with roasted yams blew my mind. (Yes, those are gluten-free breadcrumbs on top!) And Honey and I basically had a fork fight over the lemony kale salad. Run by brothers Gregg and Dan, Green Zebra Kitchen delivers vegetarian, gluten-free meals to your work or home. Just looking at their menu makes my mouth water.
We wanted to end off our day with some of LPK Culinary Groove‘s famous donuts but they weren’t ready when we got to the table. Freshly made wild blueberry mini donuts…gluten free! Not waiting for these was my one regret of the day.
Stuffed and happy, Honey and I took a selfie before heading home with two bags full of gluten-free goodies.