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Gluten-free for Celiac population
Eazy Eatz Bakery Deli Treats
Home bakery deli takes gluten free diet to new level
Under several shade trees, Rhiannon Brown and Juston Wendt wait for customers at a Saturday morning farmer’s market near a hospital on the south side in Lincoln, Neb. Their table holds only a few items because they’ve sold most of their gluten-free baked goods for the past three hours. As of May 31, Brown and Wendt have given it a go – to bake and sell gluten-free treats and breads, trying to earn their own dough for the new Eazy Eatz Bakery Deli, an LLC they operate out of their home.
“Our goal is to help as many people as possible,” Brown said.
Wendt and Brown are life partners and Wendt stands fiercely behind Brown’s mission. Both are educated in food service management via a local college. While it has always been Brown’s desire to open a restaurant, her opportunity expanded as she learned more about Celiac autoimmune digestive disease, a condition she will contend with for the rest of her days.
About 95 percent of the Celiac disease population is undiagnosed. They may be suffering from bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, itchy skin rashes, mouth sores, joint pain, headaches, depression, hair loss and discoloration in their teeth and not know why. One out of 133 Americans has the disease. That means three million Americans are affected, but only 100,000 know it.
Accurately diagnosing the disease is a problem because just one test pinpoints Celiac – the small intestine biopsy. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Celiac disease has one remedy – a gluten-free diet. Brown has become somewhat of an expert on the diet. She has even become certified in serving foods that benefit those with the disease.
In order to adopt the diet, foods must contain gluten-free grains and that includes certain oats, although people who are diagnosed with Celiac should stop eating oats altogether at first, according to the NFCA website. The foundation recommends pea, potato, soy, coconut and almond meal flour. Brown, white and wild rice are also gluten-free. Fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans, nuts and most dairy products won’t trigger the disease. Common foods like pasta and cookies (unless gluten-free) can make people with the disease extremely ill.
On her Facebook page, Brown posted she had learned a lesson one day when she ate something that wasn’t gluten-free. She was sick and promised in the same post, she would forever stick to her diet.
Not sticking to the diet lowers the immune system because the body is unable to absorb nutrients. Celiac-affected people are malnourished because their bodies reject the nutrients needed to survive – D, B and Calcium, to name three. One mother who wrote her story on the foundation’s website has had several miscarriages. She is also deficient in iron. She had never heard of Celiac and advises potential Celiac diagnosed people to keep copies of their blood work in case they are misdiagnosed as she was after several trips to a medical professional.
“Without a proper doctor’s diagnosis, you never know,” Brown said.
If there was a poster child for undiagnosed Celiac, it might be Brown. She remembers doubling over from stomach pain and crawling out of the shower because she couldn’t walk. Brown said she missed lots of school and was depressed for no reason. She believes she has had Celiac since she was 8 years old as the signs crept into her life, sometimes disguised as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. The disease is genetic, but Brown doesn’t know which family member passed it along. No one in Brown’s family has been diagnosed with Celiac. That includes Brown herself, who is self-diagnosed, but adamant people seek a proper diagnosis from a physician.
At age 10, Brown shed kidney stones.At age 22, her gall bladder was removed. She didn’t have fertility issues, but recalls her periods, which came twice a month and lasted seven to nine days each. She was 30 when she had a hysterectomy.
“The women’s issues are horrible!” Brown exclaimed. “I never felt totally functional.”
The diet and the beginning of Eazy Eatz Bakery Deli, LLC
Three years ago, Brown made a plan. She started an elimination/gluten-free diet and targeted wheat first. Brown said she felt better within a week. Her stomach pains had dissipated. Eliminating breads and pasta added to her relief. Brown said since her diet, she has not had to take medications. She’s had a few setbacks – such as an onion appetizer at a local restaurant that contained lactose. Lactose intolerance is a side effect of Celiac.
“We can make our own blooming onion,” she said of herself and Wendt.
Their menu as well as their customer base has grown since their first order for gluten-free bread April 26. Brown graduated her fluffy cinnamon treats to “Rhiannon’s Colossal Cinnamon Rolls,” and also bakes cinnamon toast, her NFCA employer’s favorite.
“The cinnamon rolls are hearty and contain no dairy, wheat, rye or barley,” Brown said.
Already on the menu are turkey and pastrami sandwich rolls, personal cheesecakes, wedding cakes and more. She and Wendt are now accepting mail orders on their website, http://www.eazyeatzbakerydeli.com, a business they want to open wide up to a physical bakery/deli and possibly a manufacturing plant in the future.
Brown joined the Lincoln NFCA location in January as an intern. In addition to her self motivated elimination diet, Brown learned even more about Celiac.
“The amount of education is priceless and it’s free,” she said.
NFCA and Celiac
Beckee Moreland, Brown’s employer and director of NFCA’s Gluten-Free Industry Initiatives and GREAT Kitchens, an online training course that recently launched gluten-free guest, said free educational resources are at www.celiaccentral.org. Healthcare and food service professionals may benefit from www.celiaclearning.com.
“Education is one of our three cornerstones at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. We focus on education, empowerment and advocacy,” Moreland said.
The NFCA’s mission encourages people to get tested before going on the gluten-free diet. Moreland said a simple blood test will start the process toward a diagnosis. People should continue on their regular diet with foods that contain gluten before visiting a physician.
Gluten-free awareness has increased in recent years because the NFCA and other advocates have promoted education on celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and the gluten-free diet. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Keith Olbermann and Jenny McCarthy have set the gluten-free world abuzz as well.
Brown recommends sticking to the perimeters of grocery stores when shopping for gluten-free foods and to never purchase processed foods. She said finding a buddy for support will help.
Moreland said gluten-free foods are sold in major grocery stores, specialty markets and online. But, Moreland cautioned, a gluten-free label isn’t a guarantee. The NFCA is waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to give gluten-free foods its stamp, expected in the fall. Until then, Moreland recommends spotting “certified” gluten-free labels and reading ingredients. If buyers have questions or concerns, they should contact the manufacturers.
Eazy Eatz goodies may be ordered online
Of Eazy Eatz, Moreland said her interest is expanding in Brown and Wendt’s menu. She loves the cinnamon sandwich roll.
“It’s not too sweet and has a great crunch and flavor when toasted. Sometimes, I like to spread Greek yogurt and apple butter on top, but its delicious plain, too,” Moreland said. She is also partial to the Colossal Cinnamon Rolls.
“Anyone who has ever tired to bake gluten-free products can appreciate how soft, gooey and chewy the rolls are. They’re baked so perfectly.”
Moreland is behind Eazy Eatz 100 percent. She said Brown and Wendt have a vision and a solid product that meets the needs of many people who must maintain gluten-free diets for medical reasons.
“They are providing a service of convenience and quality products to the gluten-free community that is unique in this size of city.”
Home bakery deli takes gluten free diet to new level by Nancy McGill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.