A longtime, dear friend of mine left her well-paying government career to open a gluten free bakery in St. Catharines, ON (near Niagara Falls) called, Edible Options. If this is not the definition of ballsy, follow your dreams, jump in with both feet, trust your gut and know you are doing the right thing kinda situation, I don’t know what is. Jen always has been and continues to be an inspiration for not just myself, but for many, many women that I know. Watching her journey and climb to incredible success over such a short period of time has been absolutely one of the proudest, awe-inspiring times in my life.
Edible Options is a certified gluten free bakery (one of the only 100% certified facilities in Niagara), located directly across the street from St. Catharines hospital on Fourth Avenue. Edible Options can cater to just about any type of food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance you can think of. Jen has been in business for almost 2 years now and business has been BOOMING ever since she opened her doors. Jen is absolutely incredible at what she does, and her talent and passion speaks volumes and can be felt as soon as you walk through her bakery doors.
The bakery is GORGEOUS. It is clean, white and crisp. The space is modern and super stylish. You never know what type of music you will be greeted with as it changes daily. Some days you walk into some 90’s hip hop, some days it’s Bruno Mars, regardless it’s always upbeat and super fun. There is a lounge area at either end of the space with a couple couches and super cool live wood tables. The barn wood counter and friendly open concept space just screams WELCOME. The custom light fixtures and visible pipes throughout the building give it an industrial yet chic feel. There is a display area in the centre where she features other local businesses such as Bare, a natural cleaning supply company, and Classy Bitch Co., a motivating line of items meant to keep you inspired all day long – both companies run by another friend of mine, Rachel Epp (who I hope to write more about in a future article – HELLO #bossbabe)
The staff here are all super friendly, helpful and always have a smile. This space reminds me of the show Cheers because they all know who you are (or at least pretend to if they don’t) and are always quick to ask how life is going as you make your way through the checkout process. I think the consistently happy, upbeat staff is part and parcel to the fact that Jen has created such an incredible atmosphere here and you just can’t help but be happy when you walk in the door. That and I know first-hand that Jen is a boss like no other. I worked with Jen YEARS ago when I was interning in college. I knew in my interview that she was the kind of person I wanted to keep in my life.
From the smiles and friendly greetings of each one of her beautiful staff members to the smile and bubbly personal greetings from Jen herself, you’re sure to have your frown turned upside down every time you visit for your weekly (or daily – we don’t judge here) treats!
A couple of my MUST-HAVE’s:
While her claim to fame is her incredible French Macaroons (pictured on the right), these are my favourites.
Coconut Bombs – these are like bounty bars on friggin glitter crack. If you are a fan of coconut and dark chocolate, these will be your new BFF.
Twix Bars – when she has them. The name says it all. They are a healthy rendition of the classic Twix bars. For us GF suckers missing a good old fashioned Twix, you will surely appreciate these babies.
Chocolate Truffle – If I could survive living off one type of food for the rest of my life, this would be my choice. It’s smooth, creamy, delectable and pure melt in your mouth goodness. Seriously… #drool
Bread – move over Dempsters, there’s a new bitch in town and her milkshake is bringin ALL the boys and gluten intolerant girls to the yard. If you’ve ever been forced into eating gluten free bread from your typical big box store, you’ll understand what it’s like to eat weighted cardboard. I’ve never known a loaf of bread to weigh more than 2 lbs before I was pushed into eating gluten free – for real though, how does this even happen?! It’s $5 a loaf and you may as well cut up a box and toast it because that’s how enjoyable it is.
Jen’s bread, however; is the complete opposite of store bought GF bread. You would never, NEVER guess that this bread is GF. It’s light, soft, fluffy and it’s PACKED with flavor. Seriously, I’ve converted non-GF folks over with a single slice, it’s THAT good. My preference is multi-grain or the herb and cheddar. She also makes a seasonal one with cranberries and multi-grain over the holidays, which is also fantastic.
Cinnamon Buns – omg drool drool drool drool. These are to die for. Go in bright and early any Saturday morning and grab yourself one. They are about the size of your head and fan-friggin-tastic. These bad boys give Cinnabon a run for their money.
BAGELS – I nearly jumped for joy when Jen announced that she had perfected her GF bagel recipe. It has been about 2 years since I had eaten a bagel and I have craved them almost daily since I was told I couldn’t eat them anymore. These are also a specialty item and only made on specific days of the week… I believe bagels are made on Tuesday’s. Your best bet is to pre-order them through the week so you are not disappointed when you show up after work only to be told they were sold out before lunch.
I order my kids birthday cakes from her each and every time and she is yet to disappoint. My guests always rave about how incredible her cake designs are and how wonderful everything tastes. Everyone is always blown away when they are told it is gluten free. Nobody can ever tell.
Jen made it a mission to revolutionize the whole GF lifestyle and by god she has succeeded. Her creations and her beautiful space make GF eating not only enjoyable, but also so very addicting.
You can find Edible Options on Instagram, where they post all their incredible #droolworthy creations as well as on Facebook. I highly recommend going IN to the bakery to get a first-hand experience to the space and meet Jen and her awesome staff in person. You will fall in love and wonder how you ever made it this far in life without them.
NOTE: non-GF peeps, don’t shy away from a visit here. All her creations are incredible, and you can find something for everyone from cupcakes, muffins, focaccia, cookies, vegan cheesecake, vegan cheese, etc. She’s got it all. If you are looking for healthy alternatives to tasty treats, this is the place to go. The only refined sugar you’ll find in the place are from the candies she uses on her gluttony cakes, otherwise it’s all natural sweeteners from dates, banana’s and coconut palm sugar.
Let them know Sheena sent you when you make your way over there <3