By Kelly Thomas
When one is first diagnosed with food allergies it can be difficult to adjust to the allergen-free lifestyle, especially because it often means cutting out the more tasty food.
Thanks to the gluten-free and dairy-free fad, most supermarkets now have dedicated aisles to allergen-free food. And since 2010, all restaurants in Massachusetts are required to have on staff a food safety manager who is trained on food allergies. But it is still difficult to find egg-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free tasty pastries.
Christine Penney and her sister Sandy Frederico opened the bakery Something Sweet Without Wheat to solve several family members’ health issues. Located in Woburn and Arlington, their two bakeries offer dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free and nut-free products.
Penney herself was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and had to eat wheat-free. She explained that her biggest challenge is to keep the cost down for her clients.
“All the flours that we use come from Michigan and Wisconsin. They don’t come from around here and they are very expensive. And we use a lot of specialty items that you can’t find in regular stores and they are expensive, too. So it’s really challenging but I try to keep the cost down for my clients,” said Penney.
The Jennifer Lee’s gourmet bakery in the Boston Public Market also offers gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free pastries. Callahan McGovern works every weekend in a vendor spot in the Boston Public Market, and studies at the Boston Conservatory the rest of the week.
“Most of our clients have a food allergy or a food intolerance. But we also have a lot of people who come because of the fad or because their family members have a food allergy,” said McGovern.
Jennifer LaSala. 22 years old, owns the bakery. She started to cook with allergen-free products when she discovered that she was slightly gluten sensitive. She was named Global Entrepreneur of the Year for all of New England by Goldman Sachs in 2013.
“She is very patient and diligent and she loves to spend time in her kitchen to try new recipes. She uses a blend of potato, rice and tapioca flour, and the entire kitchen is allergen-free,” McGovern explained.
Today, even regular cafes try to offer gluten-free or dairy-free pastries to their customers. For example, the “Caffè Nero” on Washington Street sells Something Sweet Without Wheat gluten-free and dairy-free brownies.