Gluten-free food maker goes mainstream

2014-03-10 00:00

NONNA’S Pasta, a gluten-free pasta factory in the Natal Midlands, has been sold and has moved to a new premises in Hilton to meet the growing demand for its range of products.

The new owner, Anelieze Treurnich, has opened a factory and shop in Quarry Road in the commercial sector of Hilton. Previously the business was run from a picturesque factory on a farm near Curry’s Post.

During a recent visit the phone rang often, with members of the public enquiring about products or giving feedback on recipes. Former owner Rose Thornton said the product had always “marketed itself” as wheat and gluten intolerance was definitely on the increase. Various major chain and family stores as well as health shops have been on board since the inception of the business.

“I realised the business would never reach its true potential with a ‘farmy’ lifestyle approach,” Thornton said. “The remoteness of the farm and my family commitments were preventing me from taking it to the next level, so I’ve decided to rather sell the business to someone who can develop the business to its full potential”.

She hadn’t even put Nonna’s Pasta on the market yet when the two women’s husbands met by chance. They both refused biscuits with their tea, and realised they were both gluten intolerant. It wasn’t long before the subject of the business cropped up, and the rest is history.

Thornton has been training Treurnich for the past two months and has also introduced her to suppliers and customers to ensure a smooth transition of the business.

The two women are a good “fit” as they share old-fashioned family values, and both became passionately involved in gluten free products as a result of their husbands’ wheat and gluten intolerances and allergies. Both have been experimenting with alternative baking methods for many years. Thornton’s husband, Des, suffered two heart attacks and nearly died before doctors in Sweden discovered that he had a wheat allergy that was activated by elevated body temperature. Her husband’s health issues were the catalyst that prompted Rose to buy Nonna’s Pasta in the first place as gluten-free products at the time were hard to find and not all that tasty.

The women agree that these flours are “temperamental”, reacting differently to heat and temperature.

“We have developed our pastas and baking mixes through patiently experimenting,” Thornton said. “I now use gluten-free flour for everything. The recipes taste so good that my family can’t tell the difference any more.

“We’ve done all the hard work for people with coeliac’s disease or other wheat and/or gluten intolerance.”

Nonna’s Wheat and Gluten Free Foods as it is now known will expand their product range to include new pasta shapes, ready-mix flours and baking mixes.

It already boasts the biggest range of gluten-free pastas in the country, including lasagne, tagliatelle, fusilli, macaroni, spaghetti, curls and shells. Certain products are manufactured from a gluten- free flour blend combined with fresh vegetable purees. In addition, it produces a range of gluten-free baking mixes, which include flour, bread, pancake/crumpet, muffin, cake, scone and biscuits.

Nonna’s Wheat and Gluten Free Foods in Hilton will soon stock home-baked gluten-free products and there are future plans to introduce pizza bases and rusks.

The growing company aims to expand its client base around the country.

Nonna’s Wheat and Gluten Free Foods is now available from their new shop in Hilton

PHOTO: Sarah van der Bank

DR Amy Myers is an American medical doctor and author specialising in treatment of gluten intolerance.

She writes that more than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or coeliac disease are never diagnosed.

It is also estimated that as much as 15% of the United States population is gluten intolerant.

If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:

• Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhoea and even constipation. Constipation particularly common in children after eating gluten;

• Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as “chicken skin” on the back of your arms). This results from a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut

• Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten;

• Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, scleroderma or multiple sclerosis.

• Neurologic symptoms like dizziness or feeling of being off balance;

• Hormone imbalances such as PMS or unexplained infertility

• Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of your fatigue or pain;

• Migraine headaches;

• Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips;

• Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.

Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%! Even trace amounts from cross contamination can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body.

A 2001 article states that for those affected eating gluten just once a month increased relative risk of death by 600%.

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