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Gluten-Free Dining

Restaurants in the Canadian Rockies routinely accommodate special diets

By Sara Samson


The salmon entrée from Banff’s Elk & Oarsman proves that gluten-free dining can be a tasty treat.

You’ve probably noticed the term ‘gluten-free’ popping up on restaurant menus everywhere, including here in the Canadian Rockies. Being gluten-free is trendy right now.

For most gluten-free aficionados, cutting wheat, barley, rye and oats out of the diet is a lifestyle choice that they hope will aid in weight loss, digestion and overall health. But for those who suffer from celiac disease, eating gluten-free is a necessity. The Canadian Celiac Association estimates that for one in 133 Canadians, the ingestion of gluten causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine.

Some people claim to suffer from non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, where digestion issues like bloating and cramping occur without damage to the intestine. Since there is no test for gluten-sensitivity (as for celiac disease), there is controversy regarding the validity of this condition.

Virtually every good restaurant in the Canadian Rockies offers gluten-free menu options or gluten-free preparations on request. Some local eateries specialize in gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and other alternative cuisines.

At casual Coco’s Café in Jasper, owner Lynn Wannop suffers from gluten intolerance herself and takes the issue seriously. “I’m very strict about cross-contamination, so we sanitize the kitchen before making anything gluten-free,” she says. Foods served here are made from scratch, even choices that incorporate gluten-free puff pastry. “It’s nice for celiacs that travel to have fresh, homemade options,” notes Lynn.

In Canmore, Sage Bistro owner Todd Kunst has created a dinner menu that is almost entirely gluten-free. As demand grows it becomes easier for both the kitchen and guests if gluten-free options are readily available, he notes. Todd has made his lunch menu more gluten-free friendly by offering gluten-free crackers and buns, and by removing breadcrumbs from burgers. “It’s easy to accommodate people with dietary restrictions as we make most of our dishes in-house,” says Todd.

Restaurants in our area cater to international travellers with many diet requirements and requests. Eating gluten-free here is not a problem.

Editor’s note: For a comprehensive selection of restaurants, consult our Dining Sections (Banff, Jasper, Canmore and Lake Louise).

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