When patients' supply of gluten-free muffins ground to a halt, Ashland Community Hospital didn't have to look far for a replacement.
Baker Keri Green contacted the hospital early this year, just as its food service used the last batch of corn muffins, purchased from a local gluten-free baker who didn't survive the economic downturn. An Ashland resident and host for Jefferson Public Radio, Green passed a year off work perfecting a line of gluten-free baked goods marketed to fellow sufferers of celiac disease.
"Her timing couldn't have been better," says Teresa Cooke, the hospital's nutrition service coordinator.
After nearly a decade spent developing recipes for her own gluten-free diet, Green was confident the time had come for catering to an alternative lifestyle that's becoming more common. By using the highest quality, all-natural ingredients, Green says she believes her baked goods — appropriately dubbed Green's Gluten Free — improve on the poor reputation of so many gluten-free products that have come before.
"One of my main goals is to create things that are so yummy that anybody would like them," says Green, 53.
Using whole-grain flours, cage-free eggs and many organic ingredients, Green's muffins, cookies, brownies and bars deliver health on more than one front, Green says. Many mass-produced gluten-free foods rely on refined starches to stand in for the protein gluten, which gives structure and lift to baked goods. In the absence of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or triticale, a different "glue" is needed to hold breads and other bakery products together. Although they don't trigger the autoimmune reaction to gluten known as celiac disease, potato, corn and tapioca starches "are just as bad for you," Green says.
"I was appalled at what I was finding," she says. "Those were not products I wanted to use."
She quickly gravitated toward flours from naturally gluten-free grains, such as brown rice. Brownies were an early success, followed by poppy-seed muffins and carrot cake. She seduced friends with samples, which most often elicited reactions of disbelief that the treats were gluten-free.