Bakeries with Great Gluten-Free Options
These Beloved Bakeries won’t have You Asking, Where’s the Grain?
People are making the gluten-free choice for many reasons: Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and intolerance, IBS and a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions with presumed or known associations with the consumption of gluten. Others believe eliminating gluten, a family of proteins, from their diets is a generally healthier choice, while some are just curious or genuinely prefer the taste and texture of alternatives to gluten-containing wheat flour, barley, oats (unless in an uncontaminated from) and others. A growing number of flour alternatives abound: almond, amaranth, buckwheat, chickpea, coconut, rice, soy and many more. Gluten, however, is not only found in grains in their pure form; it may show up in the likes of vitamins, pickles, beer, soy sauce and a host of cross-contaminated products. To help meet the challenge of finding gluten-free savory and sweet options, these five bakeries are among those that offer more than just a couple of gluten-free options. Rather, they are either entirely gluten-free operations or offer a wide array of mouthwatering choices.
Bella Donna’s Gluten-Free Bakery and TranquiliTea
At press time, Donna McCartney was transitioning from Bella Donna’s Gluten-Free Bakery on Centerville Turnpike to TranquiliTea. This gluten-free tea garden and brunch café will also offer brown bag lunches and GF groceries, like private label Scottish tea, from its new location on Kempsville Road. “Everything I make tastes like it should,” asserts McCartney about her wide array of tempting GF offerings which are also absent of any soy, corn, GMOs and, by request, eggs and dairy. Having owned a bakery in Pennsylvania, diners can expect cannoli on the menu, along with breads, “phenomenal” not-too-sweet Irish scones, sandwiches, soups, stews, chili, cakes—including birthday cakes and a “super-moist” Almond Cake—and specialties for every holiday. As if that weren’t enough, McCartney will also continue her Gluten-Free Support Group which currently meets from 6–7:30 p.m. on Third Thursdays. 1400 Kempsville Rd., #124, Chesapeake, 724-331-7213
This husband/wife team—he is a tech whiz and she is a chemist—wed their love of healthy living to delicious cookies. The couple’s choice of a Paleo lifestyle became the springboard for their business. While they wanted healthy treats, they did not want healthy-tasting ones, so they set out to create wholesome, homemade cookies free of gluten, grains, eggs, dairy, sugar and preservatives that would rival their traditional counterparts. Wholesome, organic ingredients combine to make their Divine Chocolate Chip, Lemonberry and other cookie flavors. Substitutions and special orders are happily accommodated, and gift packaging is available for an additional charge. Order online 24/7, or speak to a real cookie-loving human from 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Monday through Friday. P.O. Box 6498, Chesapeake, 757-647-3763, GrassfieldCookies.com
Kahiau’s Bakery and Café
This intimate bakery-café with a tropical cottage vibe is known for its frequently changing vegan menu that celebrates the seasons. Daily specials featured on Instagram and Facebook—call for up-to-the-minute offerings—join year-round favorites, both savory and sweet. All menu items are vegan, while many are also gluten-free, grain-free and raw. A few savory favorites include gluten-free Mac and Cheese and its spicy cousin, GF Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. The popular cauliflower and broccoli salads are available and gluten-free every day. Keeping it sweet—and tangy—is a customer rave like GF Lemon Cake with Fresh Fruit, especially guava-strawberry. Owner and classically trained pastry chef, Victoria Sgro, notes that the GF and raw vegan cheesecakes, sweetened with dates, are snapped up as soon as she puts them in the case. 712 S Plaza Trail, Virginia Beach, 757-340-0071, Facebook.com/KahiauVegan
My Vegan Sweet Tooth
Recently designated an Overall Gold winner for Best Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurant, this bakery, with its French country charm, has quickly become a go-to spot for for vegans seeking to satisfy both their sweet and savory teeth. One of the shop’s two vintage-inspired cases is entirely devoted to gluten-free goodies, which reflects what Owner Tonya Moody Deveau estimates is a clientele that is about half gluten-free. “If it doesn’t taste inferior,” she explains, “we try to make it gluten-free.” A selection of GF cookies, muffins, quick breads, bars, cakes and cupcakes are always available with baked vanilla and chocolate GF donuts offered on Fridays. In addition, all flavors of the luscious, in-house-made, soft serve ice creams are gluten-free, as is most everything in the refrigerated “grab and go” case: savory pies, quiches, chili, potato salad and chickpea-based “Chick-un” salad. Try the GF Yummy Bars, Fatty Cakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies and 6-inch GF Sandwich Cookies with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. 3916 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, 757-279-4789, MyVeganSweetTooth.com
Sweet Tooth Bake Shop
Located inside Health Trail Natural Foods, this bakery will satisfy more than just your sweet tooth. Monika Kelly has been a baker practically since birth. But in 2014, she discovered that she was gluten-sensitive. She naively thought she would just substitute gluten-free flour in all her recipes. Not so fast. She had to relearn everything she thought she knew and began baking and selling GF goods from her home. Before she knew it, she had a business. Everything she makes is gluten-free with some two-thirds of her menu also vegan. Though dietary concerns drive her business, Kelly estimates that 10 to 15 percent of her customers “just like what I make.” And that would include GF brownies, specialty breads, cheesecakes, cookies, cupcakes, donuts, macaroons, pies, scones and tarts. Blueberry coffeecake is a specialty as is banana bread for which Kelly modestly notes she is “kinda famous.” Wedding cakes and other hard-to-find items are available by special order. 10848 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, 757-596-8018, SweetTooth-BakeShop.com