With wheat allergies and allergies in general on the rise, more gluten-free versions of familiar foods are now available. Yummy gluten-free pastries, pizza and sausage can be found not only in the “special diet section” of the supermarket but also in many restaurants and bakeries.
“People with allergies often feel deprived if they can’t eat what is offered in restaurants and at parties,” says Mariah Justice, owner of Wild Wood Art Café in Austin, Texas. “We make gluten-free foods that are so good almost everyone likes them better than ordinary wheat-filled items. Many of our customers don’t even know we’re a gluten-free restaurant.” Justice created a cupcake for people like herself who can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Her version uses rice flour and, as a bonus, nonhydrogenated safflower oil, which contains no trans fats. It’s also dairy-free.
At Soul Dog Restaurant and Bakery in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., owners Jenny and Adam Teague turned their frustration as parents of children with multiple allergies into inspiration for gluten-free treats. They offer favorites like gluten-free hot dogs (with 25 possible toppings), pizza, and macaroni and cheese. Tasty bakery items for people with food allergies—and everyone else—include chocolate chip cookies, brownies and coffeecakes. The Teagues bake bread with a chickpea-based flour and enjoy creating custom birthday cakes.
“No one cares that all our food is gluten-free. It’s so good customers can’t tell the difference,” says Adam Teague. Gluten-free products—from soups to desserts—are available on the Internet and in specialty grocery stores, but Justice cautions consumers to read labels carefully.
Gluten is an ingredient in many products, including Worcestershire and soy sauces. Alternative food options—the main means of controlling lifelong food allergy conditions—are steadily increasing. And the healthful reinventions are good enough for everyone to enjoy.
—By Beverly Burmeier