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Angie Sutcliffe has been baking gluten-free treats and breads at home since 2006, when she was diagnosed with celiac disease.
She experimented with new baking techniques until she developed several gluten-free recipes that satisfied her sweet tooth. Eventually, it led to the start of a business.
Today, Sutcliff is the owner of GF Squared, a home-based bakery that sells gluten-free zucchini bread, pumpkin cakes, bar cookies and other sweet treats and breads.
Sutcliffe is among the 100 Utah businesses whose products will be on display Saturday, Oct. 8, during the annual Gluten-Free Expo in Sandy. The event, which also features cooking demonstrations and health discussions, is one of the largest gluten-free events in the country, said Debbie Deaver, who founded the expo two years ago after she was diagnosed with celiac disease.
Between 2008 and 2009, the number of gluten-free products exploded as the awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease grew, she said.
About one in every 133 people in the United States has the condition, making them unable to eat foods with gluten, a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, barley and rye. When people suffering from celiac disease consume products with gluten, it damages their small intestine and can cause a host of problems, from abdominal pain and diarrhea to chronic fatigue.
There is no cure. The only real solution is a gluten-free diet, said Deaver. For most celiacs, the toughest part about eating off the wheaten path is finding a substitute for baked goods such as bread, pasta, crackers, cookies and cakes.
Deaver said the goal of the expo is to show people that all of those products, like those produced at GF Squared, are available to them.
Sweet tooth • Sutcliffe, a mother of three, started her home-based business about two years ago. It is licensed under the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food as a cottage food production operation. She has a separate gluten-free kitchen with a concrete floor and stainless-steel countertops.
Instead of using wheat, she uses a blend of flours that mimic those used in normal recipes. Sutcliffe adds ingredients such as soy flour and flaxseed meal to enhance nutritional content.
She said some gluten-free grains have an aftertaste or an unpleasant texture. But she experiments to keep the taste as close to the original as possible.
"One of my goals is to make food that the whole family can enjoy," Sutcliffe says, "whether or not you need to eat gluten free."
Her products are sold to natural and specialty food stores and online at http://www.goodfoodglutenfree.com. GF Squared products also are available to the general public at the Wasatch Front Farmers Market and community events.
Besides gluten-free flours, Sutcliffe uses fresh produce to make baked items moist. For example, most of the zucchini for her sweet bread comes from a family farm in Syracuse. It's not unusual for neighbors, friends and other "zucchini fairies" to share the bounty from their own gardens.
"I just wake up and there's zucchini on my porch," Sutcliffe says.
Granola girl • Tree Hugger Foods is another Utah company to look for at the expo. Malinda Horton, a nurse practitioner, started the company in 2009 because co-workers were constantly asking to share her homemade granola.
After several requests for a gluten-free granola, Horton began researching and found a farmer in Wyoming who grows gluten-free oats.
"You can't tell the difference," Horton says. "It tastes like any other granola."
The company currently offers just one gluten-free flavor: cranberry cinnamon. But it will introduce a second, holiday flavor pumpkin spice at the expo. Tree Hugger granola is a European-style granola, similar to muesli, she said. It is baked for a shorter time than regular granola, making it more chewy than others, said Horton.
Wheat-free and more
P Learn how to live a gluten-free lifestyle during the annual Gluten-Free Expo. It kicks off with a gluten-free pancake breakfast and includes a day full of events including cooking demonstrations, health lectures and more than 100 product booths, kids activities and prize giveaways.
When • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
Where • South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy
Cost • $7 for adults; children 12 and younger free. Family 4-pack, $24
Details • glutenfreeexpo.com