Eleven years ago, LynnRae Ries was diagnosed with celiac disease. At the time she was a business owner peddling pretty nail art and traveling extensively with her life and business partner, Verne. Her business demanded a lifestyle that kept her on the road eating most of her meals in restaurants.
Today, LynnRae and Verne own Gluten Free Creations, a gluten free bakery and "caffette" with two locations, the wholesale bakery on Thomas Road and new retail bakery and casual dining spot on McDowell Road.
Gluten Free Creations offers signature GF flour mixtures, breads, bagels, pizza dough, cookies, cupcakes, donuts, and specialty pastries. One taste of LynnRae's bakery items prove that eating GF doesn't mean giving up superior goodies.
find out what motivated LynnRae to open a bakery and tips for GF after the jump
What was the motivation behind opening your bakery? I traveled quite a bit with my beauty business. One year, we were away from home for fifty-one weeks! My stepson Bob, then a thirteen year old, cried out one night "Can we just eat at home?"
My illness from celiac affected my life and our business. I feared the restrictions of my new diet, especially as I didn't cook much at home. Motivation to help myself came from learning as much as I could and helping other people with a celiac disease diagnosis.
At the time, there wasn't the awareness of gluten sensitivity there is today. I became involved in national support groups, attended conventions, and educated myself. Part of my education was learning to cook and how to eat in restaurants with my disease.
I took classes at The School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Co, and at local cooking schools like Sweet Basil and Kitchen Classics (now closed). I couldn't always eat the food we prepared in class, but I learned about cooking. I had to trade eating out all the time and learn about food. For me, it was a new challenge.
Writing and self- publishing books with the information I gained was one way to help people diagnosed with celiac. Bread is what people with celiac miss from their diet first. The books were a way to give people information on dining out, reading labels and recipes. Reader feedback convinced me people wanted the products I wrote about.
I began to work with restaurants like Z Tejas and Havana Café, consulting on GF menu items. We opened the wholesale bakery seven years ago, and now provide pizza dough, bread, burger buns, and other GF baked goods to restaurants and markets around the valley.
GF diets seem popular, does everyone benefit from a GF diet?
There is a specific medical diagnosis for celiac disease. There are different stages of gluten tolerance. A person without sensitivity who chooses a gluten free diet, really its a fad diet. The initial weight loss is more likely from changing calorie intake, not eliminating gluten. Some people experience gluten intolerance, sort of a first level, getting headaches, bloating and feeling groggy after ingesting gluten. Others suffer from gluten allergy and have external symptoms-skin breakouts, as well as severe migraines, and will literally fall asleep after a gluten-laden meal. Celiac disease is an actual genetic disorder, and the symptoms are far more severe than with intolerance or allergy, the disease eats away at the intestines.
What guides the development of your GF product line and menu?
First, what I can eat, all our products are gluten free. Then my taste buds, I want great flavor in my food. Nutritional value is important. There are nutrition guidelines for wheat products, the inclusion of iron, folic acid, and B vitamins; our GF breads meet those standards. We are vigilant about testing all the ingredients we use, even those that come from certified GF sources.
Whatever the reason a person may have a dietary restriction, they need choices, the same options as everyone has for eating. I love the variety of our breads, dough, and desserts. Our cafette cuisine and menu is modest, we have waffles, pancakes, crepes, cookies, cupcakes, cakes and sandwiches.
What inspires you?
I am a very visual person. Words, phrases pictures of food and the way food is presented inspire me. I find new experiences inspiring. For the bakery our customers provide inspiration. Their desires drive many of our menu items. We have cream puffs, éclairs, scones and whoopie pies because our customers have asked for them. I didn't even know what a whoopie pie was!
We hear stories all the time from customers who follow special diets, have food allergies and other food related problems. Customers come from all over. Travelers, local and those from out of town, stop here before they head to the airport to load up on our GF goods. There are a lot of tearful stories. Hearing that we help people is very inspiring.
How do you spend your time away from the bakery?
I have five dogs, all rescue animals, I spend time playing with them and training them. I like to travel for pleasure to visit family and friends in Colorado and Idaho. Verne travels back and forth between Phoenix and California for business, I will spend time with him in California. I like the challenge of learning something new. Our house is a fixer upper, I have lots of design projects for the house-its another creative dimension for me, learning about color, design and landscape.
Do you have some tips for beginning GF bakers?
Know where you food comes from. That was the biggest shock for me, the cross contact of food as it moves through the food chain. Labeling is important- learn how to read labels and what ingredients mean. There are hidden ingredients in processed food, learn how to identify ingredients that are problematic for you.
It helps to understand proper food preparation and technique. Take a baking class. Recipe writers and cookbook authors assume you understand their instructions. Proper measuring of ingredients, humidity, correct oven temperature, even your attitude when you bake all effect the outcome. It is a challenge to get the right texture in GF baked goods.
Lisa Cowden, pastry chef at Gluten Free Creations and Food Network Cupcake War winner, added this tip: when you are beginning to learn to bake with GF flour blends, try a recipe you have made before. If you are not happy with the GF results, adjust the level of baking powder or baking soda to get more oomph or experiment with the amount of added liquid to correct texture.
What's in the future for you and the bakery?
I want to continue to grow the wholesale business. Currently, we supply fourteen restaurants with multiple locations and eight natural food markets with bread, pizza dough and desserts. I want to increase our presence in resorts and restaurants and help develop their GF menu options.
check back for LynnRae's GF Snickerdoodle recipe