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Recently in Gluten-free Category

Julie Scianna opened her Frankfort bakery and cafe because, she says, "I just wanted a place for my kids to eat."

But it wasn't that simple.

Scianna has celiac disease. When she started her business, one of her four kids tested positive for the gene. Since then, the rest of them have, too. 5-22_Lachat_gluten_1.jpg

Scianna (at right, with chef Andrew Hebda) opened OMG It's Gluten Free last February. Her signature items include lasagna, pizza and baked goods -- foods that are particularly hard to come by for celiacs, and which also suffer from not tasting all that good in gluten-free form.

Growth in her business has been rapid; her products are in 20 retail outlets, including Whole Foods and Sunset Foods. The numbers of celiac sufferers nationwide also is rising -- about 1 to 2 percent of the population, and "we know that figure is doubling every 20 years," says Carol Shilson, executive director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. (Also worth noting: Between 95 to 96 percent of those with the disease don't even know they have it. And, the number of people with a gluten insensitivity is four to five times that of those with celiac.)

At the National Restaurant Association's annual show, which ran through Tuesday at McCormick Place, Scianna was drumming up business for the new wholesale end of her business. She recently expanded her kitchen to accommodate production, which will include her lasagna, pizza, three cookie varieties, four muffins, brownies and cookie dough.

Scianna is in talks to provide Levy Restaurants and Little Miss Muffin, both based in Chicago, with gluten-free products, as well as a certain extremely famous amusement park not in Chicago.

[photo by Jean Lachat~Sun-Times]

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Judith Dunbar Hines makes an excellent point in today's Low Mileage Kitchen column: The holidays, and the floury treats that go with them, can be a bitch for the gluten-intolerant and those with celiac disease.

Hines, the city's director of culinary arts, also offers several resources for gluten-free cooking and an easy chocolate cookie recipe. But our goof: The nutritional facts are missing from the print version, so here you go.

Per cookie: 130 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 19 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugars, 1 g protein, 31 mg sodium and 0 g fiber.

(Some readers had asked why we don't include total sugars in our nutritional data for recipes. I didn't have a good answer. But you'll now find the sugar content in our recipes.)

While we're on gluten-free -- because it seems inescapable these days -- Silvana Nardone, author of Cooking for Isaiah, is in town Friday and Saturday to demo recipes from her book, which she wrote for her gluten-intolerant son.

Nardone, the former editor-in-chief of Rachael Ray magazine, will be at Caputo's Fresh Markets, 2400 N. Harlem, in Elmwood Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday; and on Saturday at Dominick's 5201 N. Sheridan, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Dominick's, 255 E. Grand, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Recipes she'll sample include Sugar-and-Spiced Dougnuts and Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding. Because gluten-free doesn't mean flavor-free.

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(photo by John J. Kim/Sun-Times)

When Ina Pinkney suspended dinner service in January at her West Loop restaurant because of the limping economy, with it went her popular gluten-free fried chicken nights.

Well, dinner service still is dark at Ina's, 1235 W. Randolph (it's business as usual at breakfast and lunch) but customers clamoring for Pinkney's gluten-free chicken have won out.

On June 18, Pinkney will open the restaurant at 5 p.m. for a three-course, gluten-free prix fixe meal. Diners will get to choose between that famous gluten-free fried chicken, pan-seared salmon and vegetable risotto.

"We get at least half a dozen calls a week just about our chicken night," she says. "We need the business, and we also want to acknowledge that this is a part of the community.

"There is no crunch in the gluten-free world. They can't have fried food. It's a taste they miss, it's a texture they miss."

Pinkney doesn't have the gluten-free fried chicken on her lunch menu because she only has one dedicated fryer for potato pancakes and french fries. However, she now stocks
a "magnificent" gluten-free pita bread from Rose's Wheat Free Bakery in Evanston for sandwiches.

"Sandwich bread is really the missing link in all of the gluten-free foods," Pinkney says. "But Rose has been genius in figuring out gluten-free baked goods."

The dinner at Ina's is $30; reservations are required. Call (312) 226-8227.

And check out next Wednesday's Food pages for more on the world of celiac disease and gluten-free cooking.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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