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New bakery offers gluten-free treats in QCA

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As a growing number of people switch to gluten-free diets, a new Quad City business is hoping to bring the health trend to local stores.

The owners of Ganson's Neighborhood Bakery and Cafe in Rock Island have started a new business called Gluten Free Manufacturing.  At their new Milan location, owner Chris Thompson and baker Carol Birkhofer bake kosher, gluten-free brioche breads and buns, focaccia, raspberry tuxedo cake, cinnamon rolls, danish, pie crusts and cheesecake.

"It is simply gluten-free, so it does contain cream, butter, everything but gluten, so that adds to the texture and the taste. You don't get that aftertaste in your mouth," said Thompson.

The business started after Ganson's bakers received a growing number of requests for gluten-free products. Birkhofer created the recipes using trial-and-error.

"Gluten is what holds everything together," said Birkhofer. "It's almost a sin not to have that, so you have to try to create that by using the different starches and flours."

Linda Gilman was one of Ganson's first customers to request gluten-free items, and says she used to bring her own bread to the restaurant. She cut gluten from her diet for medical reasons, and says it was a very positive change.

"Besides feeling better, I lost close to 18 pounds in three weeks," said Gilman.

Research shows the number of people making that change is on the rise. According to market research firm NPD Group, nearly 30 percent of adults now say they're cutting down or avoiding gluten completely. Over the past four years, NPD Group says the number of people ordering gluten- or wheat-free items has nearly doubled.

"It's definitely a trend right now, but it's just that people are becoming more aware and getting diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance," said Thompson.

Which is why customers like Gilman call the expansion "fantastic."

"There's a lot of people in the Quad Cities who are gluten-intolerant. So it's much needed, much needed," said Gilman.

Gluten Free Manufacturing hopes to have its products in local grocery stores over the next few weeks. You can also place an order for pick-up at Ganson's by calling 309-787-7878.

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