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Woman starts gluten-free bakery from scratch (w/video)

By Jessica Rodrigo
May 14, 2014 at 12:14 a.m.

Miranda Lastinger, 25, speaks about her menu, which includes cakes, cupcakes, frosting, muffins, pie crust, bread and cookies, which she makes as part of her new business, Gluten-Freedom Bakery, in Victoria.

Did you know ...

May is Celiac Awareness Month.

Three million people are living with celiac disease, 83 percent of whom are undiagnosed.

Gluten cannot be absorbed through your skin or scalp. It must be ingested to affect those with celiac disease.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, schools are required to provide students with celiac disease and other food allergies safe and nutritional food options.

Source: Celiac.org

GLUTEN-FREEDOM BAKERY

PHONE: 361-489-1451

EMAIL: glutenfreedombakery2014@gmail.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/privilegetoindulge

Three years ago, Miranda Lastinger ate her last Cheddar Bay Biscuit from Red Lobster.

That was after her doctor broke the news that she had celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes malabsorption that ruins the lining of the intestines, she explained.

"That first year was awful," Lastinger, 25, said.

After struggling to find a balance between dining out and shopping for food that is gluten-free, she decided to start a business that would help make things easier for herself and others who had dietary restrictions.

On May 10, she started doing business as the Gluten-Freedom Bakery. She packed all her baked goodies and set up shop at the Goliad Market Days to showcase her wares.

Under the Texas Cottage Food Act, she is able to sell her gluten-free food out of her home and during public shopping events such as market days.

"Eventually, I want to do more," she said with a smile. "I'd like to get a storefront and be able to turn it into a bistro and serve lunch."

Lastinger wants to include other diet-friendly foods that might be sugar-free or dairy-free, she said.

Until then, she'll work from the small kitchen she and her fiance, Brandon Wallace, rent in Victoria with their 11-month-old son, Rhett Wallace.

She said she's starting with the basics - an electric stove and hand mixer - and plans to build her way to a professional bakery.

All the tortillas are mixed by hand, rolled by hand, cooked by hand and bagged by hand, too.

Everything is baked to order including cakes in a variety of flavors.

"Her brownies, carrot cake, chocolate cake and chocolate chips cookies are so good," said Victoria Kocian. "Everything is really, really good."

Kocian met Lastinger for the first time Saturday during the Goliad Market Days. Kocian wasn't diagnosed with celiac disease, but she has a sensitivity to gluten. She said she has to limit what she eats and has to keep an eye on the list of ingredients.

When Kocian found out about Gluten-Freedom Bakery, she was excited to know she and her family could find tortillas and bread they could eat without any problems.

"We are going to do a weekly order with her," she said about Lastinger.

That is what the stay-at-home mom turned business owner had in mind.

"I want to make gluten-free products that don't taste gluten-free," Lastinger said.

Every time she went out to eat with her friends or family, Lastinger said, options were slim to nothing - grilled chicken or salads. Even the gluten-free menus at area restaurants still posed problems, as the meals often came back wrong, she said.

Her friend, Sunitha Subbaiah, saw firsthand how hard it could be for Lastinger to dine out.

Subbaiah remembers a time when Lastinger was unable to eat something from a Mexican food restaurant because of the flour tortillas.

"She had asked them to make it a certain way, but it came out wrong," Subbaiah, 37, said. "She had to send it back."

That was too often the experience for her friend, she said. Until one day, Subbaiah said, Lastinger told her she was going to start making gluten-free food at home.

She kept perfecting everything and just kept trying and trying to make it perfect, Subbaiah said.

"I tried a few different things, and I was impressed," Subbaiah said. "You don't taste the difference at all."

Subbaiah is glad her friend has found a solution for her dietary needs.

"It's a passion of hers," Subbaiah said. "I hope people really look into it, especially those with celiac disease."

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