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A Regional Guide to Going Gluten Free

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Gluten-FreeI first learned about the existence of gluten intolerance when a close friend’s father was diagnosed as having one. The most striking aspect for me was the difficulty he had finding foods he could eat. It seemed like one of the worst fates ever: no bread, pasta, or cookies allowed! But with the rise of food allergies and intolerances in both children and adults, food producers and restaurants are taking the hint. A growing number of choices in gluten-free foods are being produced by manufacturers, while restaurants are beginning to offer gluten-free alternatives to their traditional menu options.

The French Meadow Bakery opened in 1985, and is the longest continuously running certified organic bakery in the US. With their line of organic and all-natural products, the bakery offers yeast-free, vegan, sprouted grain, gluten-free, and Kosher Parve options. Certified Gluten-Free products include bread, rolls, muffins, cakes, tortillas, cookies, and brownies.  The French Meadow Bakery sells its products nationally; they can be found locally at Green Grocer on Rt. 9 in Clifton Park and at the Honest Weight Food Co-Op on Central Avenue in Albany.

Kettle Cuisine is a company founded by Jerry Shafir, with the aim of delivering gourmet, fresh-tasting pre-made soups to consumers, filling the void in the market between homemade soup and poor quality canned or frozen varieties. In 2006, Kettle Cuisine began to develop gluten-free options to fill yet another empty niche, inspired by Shafir’s daughter’s gluten intolerance. Today the company offers ten unique varieties of gluten-free soup, including Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans, Organic Carrot and Coriander Soup, and Tomato Soup with Garden Vegetables. Kettle Cuisine is available in Albany at It’s Only Natural LLC and Paradise Natural Foods, both on Western Avenue.

Against the Grain Gourmet is a company that looks to times, when people were involved firsthand in the production of their food, to make their handcrafted breads. Located in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the company takes advantage of local artisans to bake their breads, make their cheese, and provide them with specialty foods. Working with these local producers, the company has been able to use simple, organic ingredients to produce a full line of gluten-free breads and pizzas. Their products include crusty baguettes, fluffy rolls, fresh bagels, ready-to-top pizza shells, and pre-made pizzas. Against the Grain breads and pizzas can be found at the Honest Weight Food Co-Op, It’s Only Natural, Paradise Natural Foods, and Dean’s Natural Foods in Albany, Uncle Sam’s Health Food and Sherry Lynn’s in Latham, Green Grocer in Clifton Park, and Wild Thyme in Ballston Spa.

Bob's Red MillBob’s Red Mill is a national leader in stone milling, offering a full range of whole grain products for over 25 years. The company is dedicated to producing full lines of both certified gluten-free and organic products. In addition to its wide variety of products, Bob’s Red Mill offers cooking classes, gluten-free and other recipe books, and kitchen products to help you make your own gluten-free and whole grain foods. There is also an extensive bank of recipes on their website, A step beyond offering gluten free prepared foods, Bob’s Red Mill produces a full line of gluten-free raw ingredients including dry yeast, arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, flaxseed, and many varieties of flour. Classic comfort foods like pancakes, biscuits, brownies, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon raisin bread, and cornbread come in pre-mixed ready-to-bake bag. Bob’s Red Mill products can be found at any Hannaford Bros. grocery store, Honest Weight, It’s Only Natural, Paradise Natural Foods, and Dean’s Natural Foods in Albany, Delmar Health Hut in Delmar, and Ocean State Job Lot in Ballston Spa.

Although many people don’t think of it, cheese is another product that is bad news for the gluten-intolerant. A company that has worked to change that since 1977 is Lisanatti Foods. Producing a full line of vegetarian, cholesterol and gluten-free cheese alternatives, Lisanatti Foods are free of trans fat and saturated fat, low in sodium, yet still a good source of calcium and protein. The cheeses can be found at select Hannaford stores or ordered online.

Katz Gluten Free Bake Shoppe was established in 2006 by F. Katz, the parent of two gluten intolerant children. Katz knows firsthand the difficulty of finding enough gluten-free products to provide variety and flavor in an everyday diet. She is always trying to concoct more recipes that are gluten-free and certified Kosher to add to her list. Today, Katz Gluten Free has a full line of rolls, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, rugelach, and pizza crust to choose from. These products can be found at 4 Seasons in Saratoga Srpings, Paradise Natural Foods, Honest Weight Food, and Deans Natural Foods in Albany, and Uncle Sam’s Health Food in Latham.

Fifty South is a restaurant and bar in Ballston Spa dedicated to making affordable, locally produced, fair trade, and organic food wherever possible. The menu features a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and wheat-free foods, always cooked to order.  Even if a menu item is not wheat-free, the cooks are always open to creating a specific dish for those with different dietary needs. The highlight of the menu is the endless list of Fifty South original and make-your-own omelet options. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Fifty South is located on Doubleday Avenue off of Rt. 50.

Green Goddess, Lake PlacidIf you live in the Lake Placid area, Green Goddess Natural Foods is a great place to check out for gluten-free options. The grocer offers a full range of organic and natural foods grown or produced in the immediate area and surrounding New England States. Since 2004, Tammy Loewy and Wynde Kate Reese have owned and operated the store with the intention of providing healthy, organic products at affordable prices. In addition to its vegetarian, organic, and vegan choices, Green Goddess offers a large variety of gluten-free foods. There is an entire gluten-free freezer housing English muffins, breads, bagels, pizzas, waffles, and tortillas, as well as crackers, cookies, cereals, and pastas throughout the store. The deli-freezer’s salads, casseroles, desserts, and soups are also often gluten-free. Also in Lake Placid, the Mirror Lake Inn has been known to be very accommodating to gluten-intolerance, and will arrange special meal options if you call ahead.

In the Glens Falls vicinity, there are many different options for a gluten-free lifestyle. A few restaurants that have been consistently gluten-free friendly, especially with their amazing variety of delicious salad options, are Samantha’s Cafe, The Outback Steakhouse, The Gourmet Cafe, and The Chocolate Mill Pastry Shop & Cafe, as well as Nemo’s New England Seafood in Queensbury.

Some other great area restaurants that are known for their gluten-free options are the Ginger Man, Wolff’s Biergarten, Harvest & Hearth, El Loco Mexican Cafe, Karavalli Regional, Sherry Lynn’s Gluten Free, KD’s Fish Fry, Avenue A, Saso’s Noodle House, and Wheatfields Restaurant.

–Jessica Nicosia is an Assistant Editor of The Free George.

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