LEWISTON — At the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley’s first gluten-free dedicated bakery, Bridge Baking in Lewiston, Jan Calvert has found a niche making comfort foods for what seems like an ever-growing portion of the population with food allergies and sensitivities.To avoid cross contamination through bake ware or ovens, no wheat or gluten is used at the bakery, which opened a month ago across from Lewis-Clark State College in the former location of Chef Al’s Campus Corner.
“It’s the greatest thing when people come in and say, ‘I can eat anything here. I don’t have to be careful. I don’t have to have a salad.’ ” Calvert said.
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. It helps give shape to breads, cakes,
pies and pasta. For people with gluten or wheat sensitivities, it can cause abdominal discomfort and other problems (see Five Facts about Gluten Sensitivity below). It’s an issue the medical field is working to understand, but the prevalence has provoked local restaurants and national companies such as Bisquick and Domino’s Pizza to create gluten-free offerings.
Calvert has worked as a high school band director, in new media divisions of newspapers and flipped houses, but she’s always baked. Seven years ago, after learning she was gluten intolerant, she started baking gluten free. She lived in Portland, Ore., where there were many dining options for people like her. When she moved to Lewiston, she found few choices. She started a home baking business. Demand grew quickly, with orders from stores, restaurants and hospitals. Calvert, a 1974 graduate of Lewiston High School, decided there was enough demand to open a bakery.
“You really have to throw everything you know about baking out the window,” she says about baking without gluten. “There’s a lot of flops along the way.”
It can be daunting for a home baker. At one time Calvert counted 22 kinds of flour on her shelf. Most of it she orders from Bob’s Red Mill Products, based in Portland, which is certified gluten free.
Each day at Bridge Baking Calvert aims to have three kinds of bread on the retail shelf ($6.99 a loaf), four kinds of cookies (60 cents each), two muffins and two pastries ($1 to $3) and other treats. She makes five kinds of sandwich bread — white, multigrain, gluten-free beer and rye breads, and honey oat, which is her best seller.
The bakery has a limited breakfast and lunch menu with changing choices like Spinach Mushroom Quiche ($6 for breakfast/$6.50 for lunch with a salad) and Grilled Ham and Cheese with caramelized onions ($7).
Chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls are her top-selling sweets.
“Most of these people haven’t had a cinnamon roll in months or years,” says Calvert, who takes special orders for birthday cakes, holiday foods and more and can tailor each to other sensitivities such as to dairy or eggs.
Some of her customers have celiac disease, others have found that eating gluten is tied to their autoimmune problems. Whatever the reason they seek her out, she says it’s the most gratifying job she’s ever had.
“It makes me very, very happy to meet their needs. They have a hard enough time as it is,” Calvert says.
Dedicated gluten free bakeries in the Quad Cities
Lewiston — Bridge Baking, a dedicated gluten free bakery at 607 Seventh Ave., Lewiston, is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, except Mondays. Orders can be placed by calling (208) 413-1460. Allow for 48 hours notice before goods can be picked up.
Pullman — Artfully Yours opened a storefront in downtown Pullman last spring. It specializes in products free of gluten, nuts, eggs, soy, dairy or corn. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 255 E. Main St., Suite 103; (509) 339-6033.
Wondering if gluten free is for you?
5 Facts about gluten sensitivity
1. For people with celiac disease or wheat allergy, gluten damages the inner lining of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients. Celiac disease can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, seizures, lymphoma or cancer of the small intestine.
2. Some people with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort) don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Yet, they may see improvements in symptoms when they avoid wheat and gluten.
3. Doctors are reluctant to apply a definitive label to wheat sensitivity because it’s not known exactly what causes symptoms. Wheat sensitivity symptoms also may include headaches, rashes, “brain fog,” or fatigue. The thought is that gluten may cause some type of immune reaction.
4. So far, there’s no diagnostic test for wheat sensitivity, other than eliminating wheat and gluten from the diet and reintroducing them to see if symptoms recur. Celiac disease can be diagnosed with blood tests and a biopsy of the small intestine.
5. A gluten-free diet doesn’t hurt people who do not have celiac disease, as long as the diet remains well balanced. On the plus side, gluten-free usually means cutting back on processed foods and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
— Source: www.mayoclinic.org