Matt Masters has been a well-known singer-songwriter in Calgary since 1998 but the musician was forced to drastically change his eating habits in 2009 after being diagnosed with celiac disease.
- Listen to the recap of his food picks on the Calgary Eyeopener below:
Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten, a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species. This results in the body's inability to absorb nutrients, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Since then, it's been a steep learning curve. As a musician, Masters says eating out is a big part of his social life.
Masters learned to get to know chefs and restaurant staff a little bit better and to ask more questions. Here are a few of his favourite places to eat and source gluten-free goodies.
Blue Star Diner
While this northeast diner has only been open for two years, it has established itself as a local favourite and gluten-free haven.
Most menu items at the Blue Star Diner can be made gluten-free, with alternative buns for everything from eggs Benedict to burgers. All of their tacos are served on corn tortillas and their deep-fried offerings are also gluten-free.
"We live in Bridgeland, so we go to the Blue Star," Masters said. "They know gluten-free inside out — I feel really comfortable there."
Blue Star Diner, 809 First Ave. N.E., 403-261-9998
The Ship & Anchor
As a regular at this 17th Avenue pub for the past 20 years, Masters says when he orders a burger he knows it will arrive on a gluten-free bun.
While they carry your standard menu of pub favourites, this local institution also has a full menu of gluten-free options ranging from vegetable curry and lemongrass chicken to fries and pizza. If you're not a regular, make sure to ask for the gluten-free options.
The Ship & Anchor, 534 17th Ave. S.W., 403-245-3333
This food market, with locations in southeast and northeast Calgary, specializes in food items from Central and South America.
At the Edmonton Trail location, Masters often stops to pick up plantain flour, which he uses for gluten-free cookies and other baked goods. He also likes to try the ethnic grocery stores on 17th Avenue S.E. (International Avenue).
Unimarket, 128 50th Ave. S.E. and 2405 Edmonton Tr. N.E., 403-255-4479 and 403-984-3386
Silk Road Spice Merchant
Masters loves experimenting with spices and says he believes good quality means better flavour.
He picks up spices and blends from Silk Road in Inglewood to use when pan-frying fish and preparing other dishes. Silk Road carries spices, herbs, chiles and blends from around the world as well as recipe books, grinders, graters, mortars and spice sets.
Silk Road Spice Merchant, 1403A Ninth Ave. S.E., 403-261-1955
Double Zero Pizza
Plenty of Calgary pizzerias are offering their pizzas on a gluten-free crust. At Double Zero, you can have one for an additional $3.
Masters suggests trying the spinach and potato pizza with garlic and a free-range egg on top.
Double Zero Pizza, 751 Fourth St. S.W., 403-265-9559
After 35 years spent making thin crust Neapolitan-style pizza in the same Parkdale location, Pizza Bob's is now offering a gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free alternative to their regular crust on all pies.
Pizza Bob's, 2610 Kensington Rd. N.W., 403-283-2041