We are beginning a series of interviews with businesses we believe in and support at Darou Wellness. To start this series, we have just interviewed Wendy Zeh, one of the owners from FEAST – Fabulous Eats for the Allergic Sensitive Types located just around the corner at 881 Queen Street West.
What is FEAST, and what makes you unique?
FEAST is an allergy friendly fine food store. We are the first of our kind in the world. What makes us so unique? We live it. Neil is a chef and Wendy is a nurse. We are passionate foodies with food allergies and sensitivities. The food tastes great. We create homemade food from scratch using premium, healthy ingredients. We also curate a fabulous pantry of grocery items, where every item has been taste tested!
Our kitchen is squeaky clean, gluten free + allergen free. Every ingredient has been verified with the manufacturer to be free from gluten and all of the top 8 allergens: wheat, nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, dairy, egg and soy. We never use mustard, sesame or sulphites in our kitchen either.
The entire store is free from gluten, wheat, nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish. We carry a few exceptional items that contain egg, dairy or soy, but they are clearly marked to make shopping easier.
Our allergen standards are super strict. Meticulous ingredient and product sourcing, staff training, and a no outside food policy are just a few ways we keep everything safe.
We know you have taste-tested many brands to ensure you are carrying the best-tasting options for gluten and allergy-free products – tell us a little bit about that process?
Before we opened FEAST we felt like we were guinea pigs. We’d purchase products that met our dietary needs only to find that the taste or texture was terrible. We once had to throw away a $20 apple pie because it was horrific. That pie was the last straw and FEAST was born out of experiences like this. Everything we sell has been taste tested by taste testers, including ourselves. We have tasted our way through some real crap, so you don’t have to. Out of 35 pastas, only 4 made our cut! Our taste testers are various ages, including kids. Some have dietary restrictions and some can eat anything they want.
Can you share one of your favourite easy weekday meal ideas?
The 10 minute Pizza! We always have 3 things in our pantry at home so that any night can be 10 minute pizza night: 12” Spice Market pizza crust, Marinelli Classic Marinara Sauce, and Daiya Vegan Mozzarella shreds. We sell all of these items at the store. Then we top with whatever is in the fridge. Our favourite toppings are white onion, red peppers, and roast chicken.
People often feel overwhelmed when they first find out they need to follow a gluten-free diet. What tips would you give them to make it simpler and easier?
Find yourself a guide and get support! A nutritionist is a great source of both. Knowing where gluten hides is your first step in the journey. There are some great print resources, Like Gluten Free and More Magazine, and Allergic Living Magazine. We ripped out the gluten free guide that is in the back of every Gluten Free and More Magazine and kept it on our kitchen table for the first week of our gluten free lives (it’s also available online: http://www.glutenfreeandmore.com/).
There has been a lot of media attention on gluten-free junk food, and how people who go gluten-free for their health are actually making bad food choices. What is your advice?
Dietary changes can be challenging and there is a lot of bad information out there, hence the need for guidance and support from qualified, trusted sources. Humans are habitual, so it is natural for us to try to find the closest replacement possible for our favourite foods before we had to give them up, and most of us have guilty junk food pleasures. Some people falsely assume that if a traditional junk food is available in a form that fits their new way of eating, such as gluten-free or vegan, then somehow this food is now by proxy considered healthy.
My advice to people is:
a) Adhere strictly to the diet that has been prescribed to you. “Cheating” doesn’t help heal you.
b) Make better/healthier food choices within your diet as much as possible. Eat consciously!
c) Find “treasures”… a treasure is a totally new food experience which fits your diet, is healthy, and gives you great pleasure! One of my treasures is organic apple slices dipped in coconut nectar and sprinkled with organic cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt!
Do you feel that gluten-free is a passing trend? Other than celiac disease, what other health issues can be affected by gluten in foods?
The gluten free diet is definitely under the spotlight right now because of the sheer number of people who are trying it to improve their health. The gluten-free diet has been attributed with improving symptoms for people with autism, diabetes, thyroid conditions, schizophrenia, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, eczema, arthritis, migraines… the list is actually far too long. Unfortunately Western medicine is still in the early stages of gathering and validating scientific evidence, coming up with diagnostic criteria etc., and until that happens there will be widespread skepticism and controversy around the gluten-free diet. For those of us who have personally experienced the life-changing gift of the gluten-free diet, we know that we’re more than an anecdote and that this is more than a passing trend.
Tell us about the great perk you are offering to Darou Wellness patients and clients for the month of November.
In November Darou Wellness clients can receive a 15% off card for FEAST. Pick one up at your next appointment, or show a Darou Wellness business card or receipt at FEAST to receive one. (Limit 1 card per person. Card can be redeemed once on any sized purchase of regularly priced goods. In store only. No expiry.)
Thanks so much for the interview. Your amazing food saves our lunches every day!!