Going gluten-free with sinfully indulgent ingredients

Jan 14, 2021, 10:29 AM by Dan Malovany

Gluten free better for you

As a dietician, Pam Cureton wouldn’t recommend a gluten-free diet for people who want to lose weight because many products contain high levels of refined rice or another alternative flour and starches as well as a low amount of fiber.

“Weight gain is very common for our celiac patients,” said Ms. Cureton, clinical and research dietician at the Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore specializing in the treatment of celiac disease, and a member of the Grain Foods Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, 

And many of the most successful gluten-free products are loaded with indulgent ingredients that sometimes make them taste just as rewarding as conventional baked goods.

In fact, handmade caramel, chocolate, raspberry jam and fancy pecans add layers of flavor that go a long way when creating dessert bars. Jill Bommarito, founder and president of Ethel’s Baking Co., Shelby Township, Mich., noted that its treats must pass the taste test for gluten-free and “gluten-full” consumers.

“We will not bring an item to market that is ‘good for gluten-free,’ ” Ms. Bommarito said. “It must be fantastic and outperform traditional products in the same space.”

Ethel’s small-batch specialty bars include such varieties as its signature Pecan Dandy that comes with a shortbread butter crust and caramel that’s topped with large pecans.

Ms. Bommarito noted the company is “in this for the long haul” with indulgent products that remain relevant despite variations to diets and shifting consumer trends.

“We are here to be that special treat that grandma would have made for you,” she said. “We have benefitted from other specialty diets in that all are educating consumers, helping them become better label-readers and helping them understand the calories they are investing in. We believe Ethel’s taste, clean ingredients, transparency and commitment to craft add value for consumers that care about the food choices they make for themselves and their families.”

A three-pack of the dessert bars, or about 9 oz. of product, has a suggested retail $8.99 to $9.99 while a new single-serve bar goes for $2.99.

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