For others, it’s a lifestyle choice based on a “better safe than sorry” mindset.
No matter the reason, more and more people are eliminating gluten from their diets by cutting out foods processed from wheat and related grains such as barley and rye.
And that presents its own set of problems, like finding baked goods and snacks made without gluten.
The corporate food industry and some forward-thinking chefs are beginning to experiment with gluten-free recipes, but it is still rare to find products that not only meet the “no gluten” criteria, but also actually taste good.
North Fulton has been fortunate in that a few independent bakeries have set up shop here to take up that challenge.
In Roswell, American Gra-Frutti has been doing just that since 2007.
Diagnosed as gluten intolerant just as she was poised to open a bakery, Marilyn Santulli developed each and every gluten-free recipe herself.
In 2008, the company leased its first commercial kitchen space and became a vendor with Whole Foods.
Today, the company has around 50 gluten-free items, from cookies and rolls to snacks and cakes. In addition to Whole Foods, Santulli’s creations can be purchased online or at her baking facility on Mansell Road in Roswell.
Her artisan flatbread crackers, cheese buttons and Peachtree pimiento cheese spread are sold at Roswell Provisions on Canton Street.
Unless you know in advance that what you are eating is gluten-free, it would be difficult to tell the difference, because American Gra-Futti and Marilyn’s Gluten Free Gourmet get the flavors and textures just right.
Cheese straws and the They’ll Never Know Carrot Cake made with carrot, squash and spinach are among the most popular year-round items, as well as sunshine lemon pound cake and peanut butter coconut drops.
But fruitcake is one of the stars during the holidays.
This moist, dense cake spiked with brandy and sherry is so good that not only is it hard to believe there is no wheat flour in it, it’s also a treat that even those who aren’t normally fruitcake fans will enjoy.
Santulli also makes a variety of cookies that taste good enough to be in display cases at mainstream bakeries.
New products are in the works, as well.
“We’re about ready to launch our new Snack’n Toppers. They’re biscotti-like, but crouton-sized,” Santulli said.
“They’re delicious right out of the bag as a gluten-free snack or on a salad. You can crush them up to make a crust and one person even told us that they poured milk on them and ate them like cereal.”
There will be several sweet varieties including cranberry citrus, sweet potato, sunshine lemon and vanilla wafer and the company will be developing two savory flavors as well.
Everything is produced and packaged on Mansell Road in a certified and dedicated gluten-free facility.
In addition to Santulli, the company has three full-time and three part-time employees.
“We recently hired a full-time production manager to help with the growth and have added automation to handle increases in capacity. We are well-positioned to handle any increases in demand,” Santulli said.
“The path to success has definitely been a journey, but my passion has driven me. I needed to believe it in order to make it happen. I’m just thrilled to be able to deliver good, quality food for people with special food needs.”
For information, go to www.agrafrutti.com.