Story & images: Geoff Gooden
Finding the balance between eating healthy and enjoying delicious food doesn’t have to be so difficult.
Cocoa & Joe in downtown Oshawa offers a wide range of quality and healthy gluten-free products such as muffins, brownies, cookies, coconut macaroons and chocolate peanut butter squares.
Cocoa & Joe owner Sharon Jones said approximately 50 per cent of her products are gluten-free.
“I believe that I am the only café in Oshawa that offers gluten-free fresh baked breads, desserts and lunches,” she said. “I do a quasi-lunch which would typically consist of a gluten-free combo, soup and sandwich.”
Jones makes homemade soup fresh almost every day and frozen products are never added, what does often find its way into the bowl is black pepper and oregano from her own garden.
Jones decided to specialize in gluten-free products because of the growing number of people with gluten intolerance, allergies and celiac disease. She says there is also several nutritional benefits.
“I’ve been studying nutrition for 35 years, so I wanted to have the option of buying nutritious snacks,” Jones said.
Jones said that many foods contain unnecessary amounts of gluten, which have overloaded our systems, causing ill effects such as stomach discomfort, bloating and headaches.
“When people eliminate gluten from their diet, they often find that their bloating decreases, their waistlines might get a little smaller,” she said. “Just in general, they feel better. Some people may call it a trend, I call it healthy eating.”
The health-conscious crowds are able to buy products that are difficult to find elsewhere. They include goji berries, nuts and seeds in their raw state, meaning that no salt or sugar is added and no heat is applied. These raw eats make the nuts and seeds both brain and heart healthy. Jones’ customers also tend to lose a weight when eating at Cocoa & Joe on a regular basis.
“I have one customer that has lost 25 pounds,” she said. “I have another customer—she’s not quite sure how much she’s lost but you can obviously tell she’s losing weight and she feels better.”
One of Jones’ most frequent customers is Denise Cay. The gluten-free products particularly attracted both Cay and her husband.
“My husband finds that they’re very tasty and he feels better by eating the gluten-free products,” she said. “We come all the time to pick up bread, if nothing else, but then we pick up other snacks as well.”
With the recent move of UOIT’s Faculty of Criminology to downtown Oshawa, Jones has noticed an increase in customers. Lots of student clientele visit Cocoa & Joe before and after classes, which has greatly improved her business and Jones expects this trend to continue.
“I think (business) will overall be affected very positively and I can see it happening already,” she said. “More people know that I’m here.”
Cocoa & Joe is located at 44 Simcoe St. N. The café will celebrate its first anniversary on Oct. 22.