THE GLUTEN GIRL

Stephanie McPherson suffers from celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder that does not allow her body to process gluten. Her diagnosis was also her liberation; gluten is a toxin that can be easily banished. Her delicious solutions are welcome at any table.
By Stephanie Reeves

Doctors were confused by Stephanie symptoms and she sat through many scary and frustrating doctors’ appointments over the course of a year before a doctor finally connected her health problems to gluten. When diagnosed, she experienced many different emotions.  She felt relief that she didn’t have a life threatening disease, nor would she need to take medication the rest of her life. Having to eliminate gluten from her diet, Stephanie decided to take her health situation and turn it into something positive, and tasty!

The Gluten Girl Bakery is open for customers to order bakery items that are just as delicious as the ones with gluten.  SVM spoke with the owner and creator, Stephanie, about why she had to go gluten free, and how the transition isn’t so easy, but it can be done. She shares that meals can be just as simple and taste great gluten-free.

Why have so many people decide to take gluten out of their diet?
Reasons for going gluten-free vary for a lot of people. For myself, I was diagnosed with Celiacs – an autoimmune disorder that does not allow my body to process gluten, and causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Some individuals are gluten sensitive and find they feel bloated and have digestive issues when they consume gluten. There is also a direct link between gluten containing products and ADHD and Autism. Many diabetics are advised to go gluten-free as well. Some people say they just feel better on a gluten-free diet.

When did you decide to make a business out of your gluten-free treats?
A friend suggested I start doing something with my knowledge around Celiacs and gluten-free eating last December. I kind of shrugged off the idea, but couldn’t get it out of my head. I have been frustrated with the lack of good, quality and gluten-free food for years. I kind of got used to not being able to eat sweets or partake in a “normal” meal with friends. So, in January of 2015, I decided to start The Gluten Girl – the name of the company is the nickname my husband gave me when we first learned of my disorder in 2010.

What are some of the most popular treats people like to order?
I don’t know where to start; they are all so good! The Monster Mint Cookies are a crowd favorite; two crunchy chocolate cookies with a peppermint filling, and coated in chocolate. Chocolate Dreams Brownie Bites are a big seller as well. They have a fudge-like consistency, with a crunchy, sugary shell. Sugar cookies are always fun because they can be customized and personalized too. The one product I can’t keep on the shelf is my Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. Hands down, the best banana bread you will ever eat. One promise I make to myself, and my clients, is if it tastes gluten-free, I won’t make it. I refuse to waste my calories on a brick of cardboard, and I won’t ask anyone else to do so either.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to remove gluten from his or her diet all-together?
Be patient. Going gluten-free can be an overwhelming task, especially in the beginning. I’ll never forget my first trip to the grocery store after I received my diagnosis – it seemed like every single item I picked up had some form of gluten! Shop the outer aisles of the grocery store until you can familiarize yourself with safe, gluten-free products. Tell everyone you know you’re gluten-free. I was embarrassed about my disease for a long time. It felt so high maintenance and impossible. I used to eat before going to a friend’s house, or just starve until I got home and could eat everything in the fridge. Don’t do that. Educate your friends and family so they can learn how to properly sterilize their kitchen – tell them not to use wooden utensils or prepare food on porous surfaces as cross contamination can occur. If you have a kitchen that needs to serve both gluten, and gluten-free family members, store your gluten free products on a shelf above those with gluten. While traveling, let your airline, hotels, and travel agents know about your special dietary needs as they can accommodate you if they know ahead of time. The people in your life want you to eat. Let them feed you – safely.

Do you have a certain meal or dessert that is your favorite since going gluten free?
We make a lot of taco salad, or variations of tacos, like stuffed bell peppers. I love spicy food, and being able to incorporate fresh veggies into our meals. My favorite dessert is probably my Chocolate Cupcake recipe. I have cravings for them. And, since I use zucchini as a primary ingredient, I don’t feel guilty having one for breakfast every now and then.

Where can people find out more about The Gluten Girl Bakery?
My website: www.theglutengirl.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephtheglutengirl
Instagram: @theglutengirlbakery
Email: Stephanie@theglutengirl.com Phone: (706) 681-7460