Have Celiac Disease? Here's Where to Eat in Vancouver

Celiac disease is not rare—in fact, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation estimates that although approximately 110,000 Canadians have been diagnosed, there are still about 220,000 who may be undiagnosed and have no idea they have it.[i]

What is Celiac Disease?

For those unfamiliar with celiac disease, here’s what the Mayo Clinic says about it:

“Celiac disease…is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine's lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.

In children, malabsorption can affect growth and development, in addition to the symptoms seen in adults. There's no cure for celiac disease — but for most people, following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing.”[ii]

Where to Eat Gluten-Free in Vancouver

If you have celiac disease, there are so many options that weren’t available even 5 or 10 years ago. In fact, Vancouver has made eating out super easy for those looking to avoid gluten.

Here are a few places in downtown Vancouver that we recommend you visit if you have celiac disease:

·       The Smallflower Café: vegan-friendly lunch and baked goods (Gastown)

·       The Wallflower Modern Diner: vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner (East Van, Main Street)

·       Gluten-Free Epicurean: baked goods (East Van)

·       SMAK Fast Food: breakfast and lunch (Coal Harbour)

·       Lemonade Gluten-Free Bakery: baked goods (South Cambie)

·       Edible Flours: vegan baked goods (Kitsilano)

·       Panne Rizo: lunch and baked goods (Kitsilano)

·       Float-On Bakeshop and Café: brunch, lunch, baked goods (East Van)

·       Meet on Main: lunch and dinner (East Van)

So happy eating! At Smallflower Café, we create vegan and gluten-free goodies daily, and if you’re not vegan? No worries! We also make a mean gluten-free, full-bacon BLT. For more information on our menu, visit our website.



[i] http://cdhf.ca/en/disorders/celiac-disease/section/overview

[ii] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/home/ovc-20214625

Gluten-Free in Gastown

Gastown, Vancouver is an awesome place to operate a mostly vegan and gluten-free café and bakeshop, because its environment is so eclectic—just like our customers! Because celiac disease doesn’t discriminate, and a gluten-free lifestyle choice can be chosen by anybody, our customers are as diverse and amazing as they come.

Which makes total sense—have you seen this neighbourhood? It’s the BEST!

From toddlers to twenty-somethings to near-centenarians, we get to meet the coolest and most vibrant people that Gastown has to offer! And because we make and serve everything from bliss balls to cookies to sandwiches, there’s something for everyone.

Here are our customer’s favourites:

·       Cinnamon buns

·       Nanaimo bars

·       Chocolate chip muffins

We also carry an awesome selection of mostly vegan and 100% gluten-free sandwiches, including:

·       Veggie Melt

·       BBQ Tofu

·       Avocado BLT

·       Citrus Eggplant

·       Roast Chicken

·       Balsamic Veggie

Also? Even though it doesn’t really look like it, summer is COMING! We have gluten-free hot dog buns, so get ‘em fresh—they’re delicious. A complete list of menu items can be found on our website, so check it out and run right over! We also take custom orders on baked goods, so if you’re in the market for a vegan and gluten-free wedding cake or birthday cake or anything else that may be hard to find, we can help you!

Remember, our eats are made fresh and use local ingredients. If we can’t make it ourselves, we ask local businesses to contribute! (That dairy-free ice cream in our gluten-free waffle cones? That’s Vancouver’s own Say Hello Sweets!)

What’s your favourite yummy thing to pick up when you stop in our café and bakeshop at 47 West Hastings? The next time you visit, let us know you saw this blog post, tell us what your favourite vegan, gluten-free treat is, and receive 10% off.

Happy gluten-free eating, Gastown!


Spring Into The Smallflower Cafe

Guys! It’s SPRING! Spring is a time for cleansing the soul, creating new and healthier habits, and…finding new routine! (Can that routine include stopping by Smallflower on your way to work every day?!)

Just kidding…(sort of)…but it could include adopting more mindful eating practices, which means eliminating food from your diet that no longer serves you well (Dairy? Gluten?), and opting to try locally produced goods, created by local small businesses.

Like Smallflower!

Here are a few things we think you should check out this spring:

Baked Goods

Guys, we have the best pastries. The best. And they’re made fresh every day, and are vegan and gluten-free. Here are our bestsellers:

-       Cinnamon buns

-       Pies

-       Cakes

-       Cupcakes

-       Bread

-       Tarts

-       Biscotti

Our Meals

We serve breakfast and lunch daily, except for Sunday. (You won’t find anyone here on that day, although sometimes we’re at Hastings Park Farm Market on Sundays.) Our regulars love our vegan breakfast sandwiches (though if you’d prefer them with bacon, that’s cool, too), and our amazing soups and sandwiches at lunchtime.

Pro-Tip: if you’re looking for great brunch or dinner or drinks, visit our big sister restaurant, The Wallflower at 8th and Main.

Our Dry Goods Selection

Aside from making great food that’s vegan and gluten-free, we also carry vegan and gluten-free goods, such as gluten-free pasta and flour blends, vegan drumsticks (ice cream from Say Hello Sweets and gluten-free waffle cones from US!), and so much more (including Denman Island Chocolate, which is both dairy-free and gluten-free)!

Find out who our local foodie collaborators are HERE. And speaking of…

Our Local Friends, Whose Products We Carry

We collaborate with many other local small businesses who provide us with yummy things that go with our food or in our food (some of them carry our food!), that we don’t make in store ourselves.

These other businesses include:

-       MeeT in Gastown

-       MeeT on Main

-       The Nosherie

-       Olive + Ruby

-       Virtuous Pie

-       What’s up? Hotdog!

-       The Uncommon Café

-       Revel Juice

-       Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck

-       Say Hello Sweets

-       Vancouver.

-       Fluffy Kittens

-       The Wallflower

-       Caveman Café

So make a point to stop by our sunny space this spring, and try something new, local, and amazing. We promise you’ll be back.


The Smallflower


12 Gluten-Free Breakfast Ideas

If you’re like us, you love breakfast. Even better? Second breakfast! The thought of eating is what gets most of us out of bed every morning, so here are a few ideas that are easy to prepare and give you zero excuses for missing out on the most important meal of the day:


It’s good to start the morning with some fruit to get the digestive system going, after fasting all night. Our bodies digest fruit faster than anything else, so fruit should be eaten alone either an hour before breakfast, or about two hours after.

Fruit is also easy to wash and prepare the night before so its ready as soon as you get out of bed.

Chia Pudding

Chia pudding is a personal favourite. You can make enough for a couple days and keep it in the fridge, and since there are a ton of great recipes out there, you never have to make the same version twice. Try coconut milk chia pudding with some shredded coconut blended inside and a mango puree on top.

Chia (the Mayan word for strength) is an amazing little seed and these bad boys will keep you full right through ‘til lunch time. The benefits you’ll get from chia go on and on, but we notice the biggest difference in our skin.

Overnight Oats

Another awesome breakfast food that you can prepare the night before is overnight oats. Just throw some gluten-free rolled oats and nut mylk in a jar with whatever else you like on top or mixed in. Place it in the fridge, and open it up in the morning!

Apple cinnamon overnight oats is our favourite; the texture and sweetness of applesauce (even from the unsweetened kind) is perfect, and cinnamon helps you to concentrate, making it a perfect food to start your day with.

If you prefer your oats to be hot, you can get them cooking first thing, then get ready and eat once you’re all done. Try hiding seeds in your oatmeal—they add a lot of nutrients, and you’ll probably enjoy the added texture.

Breakfast Wrap

Everyone loves a great breakfast wrap. Try using a large rice of teff flour tortilla and filling it with refried beans, a tostada, fresh salsa, some avocado, and hot sauce. Wrap it all up, and throw it in a pan for a minute or so on each side. Yum!

Huevos Rancheros

Another amazing awesome breakfast idea is huevos rancheros, which is typically scrambled eggs and a tomato chili sauce on a corn tortilla. It also often has rice or refried beans, as well.

(Eggs can easily be substituted with a tofu scramble for our vegan friends.)

Hash Browns

It’s so easy to chop up potatoes before you go to bed and throw them in a frying pan in the morning with some oil, water, and spices, then cover with a lid. They can slowly cook, and you can eat them once you’ve finished the rest of your morning ritual! Again, avocado and hot sauce is a great pair with hash browns.

Love yams? Try making yam hash browns! Even better, try mixing yams and potatoes together.

Please don’t think your food can’t be fun and delicious just because it’s gluten-free. There’s nothing boring about it. In fact, it’s better, and probably better for you than any normal conventional gluten-laden breakfast. Get creative, love your mornings, and love your breakfast. Get excited to get out of bed and enjoy your food, Vancouver!

Still not into making yourself breakfast? Here’s what you can easily grab to go from The Smallflower:

  • Cinnamon Buns
  • Bliss Balls
  • Banana Bread
  • Bagels
  • Breakfast Sandwiches
  • Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Remember that everything we make is gluten-free, and usually vegan, too. (Except the breakfast sandwich—that is full egg, cheese, and bacon. Vegans beware.) If you don’t know what to eat for breakfast, or you have no time to make yourself one of the suggestions above, please stop by and let us take care of you.

We’re located at 47 West Hastings, and you can also find us every other Sunday at the Hastings Park Farm Market. ALSO: if you live in East Van, try our sister restaurant, The Wallflower.


Why Our Gluten-Free Bakery is Different from the Rest

More than a bakery.

Born out of a restaurant background with the idea to support her bigger sister Wallflower, Smallflower’s goal is to produce high-quality gluten-free and vegan bread in a dedicated facility. Knowing that the best way to show off bread is by jamming two slices full of sandwich-type ingredients, Lisa opted to go with ‘Café & Bakeshop’ to describe the place.

Beyond just being a super delicious sandwich shop, Smallflower offers snacks, sweets, retail, and of course, coffee to round out the offerings.

Small scale production, small room, Smallflower.

While not a total sugar-hater, owner Lisa wanted to maintain a focus on savory gluten-free and vegan options. This is very different from most other gluten-free bakeries where sugar is king. 

“Eggs and sugar are cheat binders,” she describes. She further explains that “gluten-free baking is easy if you use these ingredients, but their contribution is not always wanted. Consider what your options usually are when you at a typical coffee shop: a cookie, a brownie, a raw chocolate-nut-seed bar.

Savory bread-type items have a short shelf hold, meaning they are best the first day, and its hard to produce these items without a metallic taste or dry gritty texture. This is where Smallflower products shine: pop in and have a savory swirl roll of arugula and pesto-hummus and you'll understand.”

If you love our products, ask for Smallflower products by name at your favourite local spots so they know you're looking. We're expanding our wholesale business to bring our awesomeness closer to you.

To find out where our yummy products are currently placed throughout our city, refer to our Friends of Smallflower Café blog post. And if you haven’t tried our gluten-free deliciousness yet, we’re located at 47 West Hastings Street, in the heart of Gastown.

See you soon!


5 Secrets of Gluten-Free Baking

Friends! We get asked about how we make such delicious gluten-free products all the time, so we thought we'd divulge a little info! Gluten-free baking is different from conventional baking, so listen up:

Secret #1: DO NOT throw away everything you know about baking.

We personally have a giant batch of hate for this advice. Understand that gluten-free baking will have crazy different textures, flours and even processes than you are used to, but PLEASE don't throw away everything you know.

Instead, use it as a reference. For example, our bread recipe has a consistency about half way between cake batter (the runny kind) and traditional dough. Now, if you threw away what you knew, those references would make no sense at all.

Secret #2: Mix it all a little longer.

Or a lot longer.

Our little devilish gluten molecule is properly mixed already, 100% of the time. Your flours and your binders are like a grade 7 dance: in the beginning, everyone sticks to the wall (like a wallflower) and eventually as the music goes on for a while, things get well-mixed until everyone is having a good time.

This is what you and your mixer need to accomplish with your dry mix BEFORE you start adding liquid. We usually let our mixer go on low speed for about 5 minutes with a whisk attachment before we add anything.

Secret #3: Get to know your flours.

Most of us crafty folk know that if we want to make green, we add blue and yellow together. Make a date with your flours one day and see what their individual personalities are. We suggest with flours, to make a mini pancake: flour and water, a hot griddle, a little pancake.

Learn individually the taste and texture of a flour so you know how it will play with its other flour friends. This will show you that tapioca also helps to bind (stretchy pancake) and that almond flour has no bind at all.

Share your pancake pics and the lessons you learn with us on Twitter and Instagram!

Secret #4: Get to know your binders.

Binders are the gluten replacement 'glue' in our recipes. They are not all created equal, nor do they behave the same. Adding a binder improperly may sabotage your recipe. Imagine making chocolate chip cookies and 5 of the cookies each have one or two chocolate chips and one of the cookies has 97.

As appealing as that one cookie sounds, this is not the intended result!

Mixing your binder with a matching dispersing method will ensure it distributes evenly through your recipe. Use the suggested list below as a starting point. And as always, if you have a question, message us!

·       Xanthan: Mix oil

·       Guar: Mix oil

·       Cellulose: Disperse in flour mix

·       Chia: Water and blender

·       Flax: Water and blender

·       Garfava: Disperse in flour mix

·       Aquafava: Blend with a high-speed blender immediately before adding

·       Agar: Mix with water, it must reach 100C for 5 minutes to activate

Secret #5: Wet hands or dry hands.

When working with gluten free dough/ bread/ we get ourselves into a very sticky situation. The dough is like glue and will smear and stick and be kinda monster-like to deal with.

To work with this dough, we want you to imagine the dough is like an egg yolk and you are trying not to pierce it. Use either water, oil, or sweet rice flour to coat the dough and your hands and maintain that barrier between you and the inside glueyness.

From mixer to bowl, we’ll use a spatula that we repeatedly dip in water to scrape the dough ball into a larger bowl of sweet rice flour or olive oil. Once our mixing bowl is empty, we will coat our hands (be matching: if we used rice flour in the bowl, we keep our hands dusted we that; if we used oil, we keep our hands oiled) and we will coat the top portion of the dough and get it into whatever workable shape we need.

You’re doing this right if your hands stay cling-on free. If you get dough-glued, stop and scrape it off and coat your hands again. If you allow your hands to get crusted with gluey-dough, you’ll have challenges throughout your bread making.

Use these tips and don't let the dough monster win!

For information on gluten-free myths, visit our blog. Visit us at 47 West Hastings to try our many delicious gluten-free products. Cheers!

Local Eat Joints: Friends of Smallflower Cafe

Well, it’s the end of January, and we don’t know about you, but we feel like 2017 began with a bang! This past month, we’ve participated in several events, including The Gluten-Free Expo, Fall for Local’s panel Food Business: What We Know Now, But Didn’t Know Then, and both the Hastings Park Winter Market and the Nat Bailey Stadium Winter Market!


Do you want to know what we learned this month while throwing ourselves into all this craziness? We learned that we are surrounded by some pretty amazing Vancouver-based food businesses. There is a whole community of us to support one another, and it’s kind of a humble and incredible group to be part of!

Here are some of the local food businesses that we collaborate, work, and supply with, and receive assistance from on a continual basis:

MeeT in Gastown

MeeT in Gastown is a super cool restaurant located at 12 Water Street. They carry our gluten-free white buns, and is the little sister to MeeT on Main. (Just like how The Smallflower is the little sister to The Wallflower! More on that later…)

MeeT on Main

MeeT on Main is located at 4288 Main Street (between 27th and 28th), and also carry our gluten-free white buns!

The Nosherie

The Nosherie is a cute little deli located at 575 West Georgia. They love (and carry) our gluten-free focaccia buns. Check ‘em out!

Olive + Ruby

Also carrying our gluten-free focaccia buns, is Olive + Ruby. This cutie café is at 2839 West Broadway.

Virtuous Pie

Our awesome gluten-free waffle cones are currently living at Virtuous Pie in Chinatown! The street address is 583 Main Street.

What’s up Hotdog

What else would this quirky little hot spot carry of ours, other than gluten-free hot dog and hamburger buns?! Check out What’s Up Hot Dog at 2481 E Hastings.

The Uncommon Café

The Uncommon Café is located at 477 Powell Street, and is home to our gluten-free hot dog buns!

Revel Juice

One of the coolest juice bars in town (and we have LOTS in Vancouver!), Revel Juice must love us loads, because they carry our biscotti, bliss balls, cookies, muffins, nanaimo bars, orange chew bars, and peanut butter bars—all gluten-free, of course. Catch up with them at 1978 West Broadway.

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck

Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck trusts our gluten-free white buns to make their magic with! Find them in various locations around Vancouver.

Say Hello Sweets

Say Hello Sweets makes amazing vegan ice cream, which we use to stuff our gluten-free waffle cones with. They carry our gluten-free cookies and cones, and we make drumsticks with their creamy ice cream. Basically, it’s a match made in vegan, gluten-free heaven. Find them in their cute food truck in various locations around metro Vancouver.

Fluffy Kittens

Despite what the name might indicate, Fluffy Kittens is not a cute pet shop. They sell artisanal ice cream and are the bomb! They carry our gluten-free waffle cones, and are located at 611 Gore Avenue in Chinatown.

The Wallflower

What can we say about our big sister?! The Wallflower is one of our best customers (obviously), and carry our gluten-free buns, focaccia, flatbread, veggie sausage, desserts, and more! Find them at 2420 Main Street.

Caveman Cafe

Do you ever feel like you’d eat better quality food if someone just made it for you and brought it to your home? ‘Cuz that’s what Caveman Café will do for you! This healthy and awesome meal prep and delivery service carries our gluten-free biscotti, and they’re located at 88 West Pender.

 We also carry the following products that compliment our café: ice cream from Say Hello Sweets (mentioned above), jam from Le Meadows Pantry, chocolate from Denman Island Chocolate, and coffee from Agro Coffee Roasters.

The next time you’re around one of these yummy local food businesses (including the Smallflower Café!), pop in and look around. We all support each other with awesome local products that are fresh and taste amazing.

See you soon!


5 Gluten-Free Myths, Debunked

Happy New Year, friends! After being closed for the holidays for a couple of weeks, The Smallflower has reopened and is rocking it at all things gluten-free. Most of our customers actively have celiac or gluten sensitivities, but sometimes we meet people who eat gluten-free because let’s face it: it’s become a little trendy.

Because of this trend towards gluten-free diets, we’ve noticed some topics arise that need addressing. So, we’ve decided to try and dispel some of the rumours, ideologies, or stereotypes surrounding gluten-free living.

Without further adieu, here are 5 gluten-free myths, debunked:

Gluten-Free Baking Involves a Simple Substitution

Ummm…no. If you’ve ever tried to simply substitute processed wheat, barley, or rye flour for a single flour that is free from gluten, you know what we’re talking about. The process of creating the perfect blend of flour substitutions is one that has been trial and error, and cultivated with love and persistence.

And now you get to benefit from all that work!

For more information on what we do to substitute conventional wheat flour in our products, refer to our blog on Gluten-Free Flour Power.

Abstaining from Gluten is Healthier for You

This is a true statement if you suffer from celiac disease, or have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. If you fall into this category of people, then yes, abstaining from gluten would be the best thing for your body and overall health.

However, there is a misconception in the general population that gluten is unhealthy and everyone should jump on the gluten-free bandwagon. Gluten is only a problem for those who suffer from an autoimmune disease such as celiacs, or whose bodies are sensitive or allergic to the protein. If you don’t have this type of sensitivity, then gluten is perfectly safe to consume.

(Here’s the disclaimer, though: many people live with an undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten, and since testing for these sensitivities isn’t possible, we recommend paying close attention to your body and noticing how you feel after you eat foods containing gluten.)

This being said, eating delicious gluten free baked goods from The Smallflower when you are not sensitive is by no means bad for you. It just means you get to explore the best of both worlds!

“A gluten-free diet can still be a healthy way to eat depending on your food choices. Good gluten-free choices include naturally gluten-free foods, such as lean meats, low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruit, whole gluten-free grains and healthy fats.”The Mayo Clinic

Gluten-Free Products Taste Weird

Gluten-free baking has come a long way, boys and girls. Like, a looooooong way. 20 years ago, a loaf of gluten-free bread weighed about the same as a newborn baby, and tasted like cardboard.  

Today, we’ve become much more creative in using fresh and wholesome ingredients that taste amazing. If you don’t believe us, come try our stuff! It’s to die for, and there’s no way you’d ever know it was gluten-free.

It’s Difficult to Find Great-Tasting Gluten-Free Eats

Again, this statement was true about 20 years ago. But in 2017? Many mainstream restaurants (even Earls and Cactus Club!) offer gluten-free items on their regular menus—and there are more shops like ours popping up all the time, that cater largely to a gluten-free population.

Also, Vancouver has a lot of restaurants. Bottom line? Finding gluten-free meals is now easier than ever before. (And remember, The Smallflower is 100% gluten-free! You can eat anything here, and not ever have to check a menu icon.)

Gluten-Free Food is More Expensive

This might be true for specialty items, but honestly? Gluten-free eating has become so mainstream, that prices are about the same. The price for a sandwich at The Smallflower is totally comparable to the cost anywhere else—except we make everything fresh, gluten-free, and super yummy.

If you have any questions or comments about what we’ve written above, please feel free to address them and leave your thoughts below. (Or ask us in person!) We’re located at 47 West Hastings, and we look forward to meeting all of you in 2017.