RadioBDC Logo
Trying To Be Cool | Phoenix Listen Live
 
 
< Back to front page Text size +

Belmont baker caters to the gluten-free

Posted by Cindy Atoji Keene  February 4, 2014 11:45 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

By Cindy Atoji Keene

Gluten-free foods have come a long way, said Natalie McEachern, owner of Glutenus Minimus Gourmet Gluten-Free Bakery. McEachern was diagnosed with celiac disease over a decade ago when being gluten-free wasn't hip or trendy; today itís a $4.2 billion market with products ranging from meatballs to potato chips. ďEven those who donít have celiac disease are eating gluten free because it makes them feel better; friends and family members also might eat gluten-free to support a loved one. Thereís more awareness in general about how food can affect the way we feel,Ē said McEachern, 32, who started the Belmont bakery six years after she discovered that the recipes she created at home tasted better than baked goods she could buy in the store.

Q: How pervasive is gluten in our everyday food?
A: Being gluten-free means having to religiously read food labels; not being able to go to some popular restaurants; no traditional birthday or wedding cakes, and on and on. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains. It can cause problems for those with celiac disease, which is a hypersensitivity to gluten that can lead to difficulty digesting food. Gluten is everywhere, including in bread, pasta and other staples. Itís a big life change for someone if they find out that they have a gluten intolerance.

Q: Why do gluten-free foods have a reputation for tasting like cardboard?
A: Gluten-free cookbooks, especially earlier ones, often called for obscure flours such as garbanzo bean floor, which might be excellent in hummus but not so great in cookies. When I first started exploring gluten-free cooking, I had to go to small local health food stores and special-order sorghum flour or other difficult-to-find flours. Some of these had a strange after-taste that couldnít be disguised, even by chocolate or peanut butter.

Q: How is gluten-free baking different from traditional baking?
A: I really need to think through and experiment with recipes before even trying to make it gluten-free. With breads, for example, more binders need to be added, whether xanthan or guar gum. And itís definitely a game of figuring out which flours create what textures. As far as cakes, muffins, and cookies go, you have to mix gently or batter comes out like a rock.

Q: Why are gluten-free products so expensive?
A: People are shocked by the price of items like guar gum. But creating gluten-free products is very involved; for one, manufacturers have to be certified to carry certain gluten-free labels. Protecting against cross-contamination requires testing batches for gluten and allergens, using special equipment, and regular cleaning of dedicated facilities. All of these increase production costs.

Q: Do you also try to accommodate other dietary and allergy restrictions at your bakery?
A: For so many patrons, celiac disease and gluten intolerance is just the tip of the iceberg. I see people with multiple allergies, including corn, soy, dairy, egg and nut, so I try to come up with desserts for all. We are a resource for parents with newly diagnosed children; they come in panicked, not knowing what to pack for their kidís lunch, or where to shop. I keep a box of tissues on the counter because it can be overwhelming. I believe no kid should go without a birthday cake on their birthday.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

 

about this blog

From looking for a job to dealing with the one you have, our Job Docs are here to answer your employment-related questions.

e-mail your question

Name:
E-mail:
Your question/comment:

Meet the Jobs Docs

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.

archives