Gluten-free options find appreciative customers

Paul Knaysi can’t eat his own delicious pizza creations.

That is, unless the downtown Pablo’s Pizza co-owner uses the restaurant’s gluten-free pizza dough.

Knaysi began using the dough at his 319 Main St. pizzeria nearly two years ago after finding out he’s wheat intolerant. Like many people who are allergic to wheat or gluten, a protein in foods processed from wheat, he would get sick eating regular pizza. But he can chomp on crust made with other ingredients, such as brown rice flour or buckwheat.

“There’s a limited market for it, but people seem to appreciate it,” Knaysi said.

The gluten-free pie is available by request, but it is prepared in the same area where flour-based pizzas are made, so Knaysi suggests those with a severe allergy try something else.

Deborah Henderson, owner of The Cake Cottage, 2889 North Ave., No. 6, tries her best to prevent wheat from contaminating her gluten-free desserts by preparing them in a separate room that does not have flour in it. She also cooks gluten-free cakes, scones, cupcakes, cookies and cinnamon rolls and nothing else in one particular oven, and she freezes them in a specific freezer.

Henderson added the gluten-free items to her menu after one of her employees was diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that causes the intestines to react adversely to gluten.

“She was in the emergency room every other week” before being diagnosed, Henderson said.

Henderson said demand for gluten-free items is sporadic, but those who do order the items appreciate Henderson’s efforts.

“A lot of people have gluten, dairy and egg allergies. We just try and accommodate them,” she said.

Nancy Carter began a gluten-free diet last summer and stopped having migraines within four months, something she attributes to the diet. She opened the Gluten Free Food Shoppe in the Grand Junction Business Incubator and started selling her own gluten-free creations at Quality Meat Co., 340 North Ave., in January.

Carter sells waffles, pizza crust, breads, biscuits and desserts, all made ready to eat. She said it took some time to make the products moist enough, and some products in stores are dry or crumble easily.

“There are some unpleasant gluten-free things out there. But my stuff, I’ve messed with the recipes enough to get it right,” Carter said.

Janie Van Winkle, owner of the Nick-N-Willy’s franchise at 683 Horizon Drive, No. 4, said the gluten-free dough she debuted a couple months ago doesn’t quite taste the same as regular dough. But she has some customers who prefer its nutty flavor.

The take-and-bake pizza chain joined Pablo’s, Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza and The Hot Tomato Cafe and Pizzeria in offering a gluten-free-crust option after the franchise’s owner developed a gluten allergy. The crust is made in Boulder and has customers returning for more even a couple days after their last order, Van Winkle said.

“I was having several requests per day” before the dough’s arrival, she said. “We’re seeing rave reviews.”


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