In observance of Celiac Awareness Month allow us to offer a grocer’s perspective on shopping for the Celiac sufferer!
As a Wellness Consultant for Heinen’s, one of our main passions is helping our customers navigate their way through the mass amount of gluten-free products available in our wellness department and throughout our store. No less than once a week, we meet customers who have been diagnosed with the incurable disease of Celiac. We see the distraught looks of fear and frustration in their faces as they pour their hearts out to us that they have just been diagnosed, many after a long series of testing! My heart breaks for these customers, I understand the debilitating effect of what Celiac disease does to the body, the brain and the spirit! Understanding what our customers can and cannot digest is imperative to our ability to help. Even more important, we reassure our customers there are so many ways to continue living a flavorful, filling life of great choices. They only need to be concerned about how much they want to try — all at once or one new item a week.
When I begin a gluten-free tour of our store, I begin with bread. We offer more than 10 brands of gluten-free breads from frozen to fresh. Giving up bread does not need to be an option, as there are amazing choices in sandwich style, pitas, English muffins, hamburger and hotdog buns and baguettes! So how do they taste? During our gluten-free tours, we hold tasting tests and allow the customer to make the choice. There is something about bread that is very personal to customers. Our customers, describe texture, consistency, taste and durability that suit their palates. One customer may love Udi’s brand, others love Schar’s brand, it’s a true phenomenon of preference. As a person without Celiac, I choose another brand completely different due to the wheat belly effect of regular bread. I have not met a customer yet whose taste we could not satisfy with our choices.
Pasta!!! Americans love our pasta and those that suffer from Celiac are no different. We have a great selection of gluten-free pasta in our wellness department. I have found new varieties of bean pastas to be denser than the corn choices and more nutritious. One new brand Tolerant is made from green or red lentils and packed full of fiber and protein. This brand is a low glycemic index, great for diabetics and contains a high fiber count of 15 grams per serving and 20+ grams of protein! Most importantly, it tastes great, holds up amazing when boiled and provides a great al dente texture!
Don’t be fooled! Many customers feel that if they eat a gluten-free diet, they are eating healthier. There is a misnomer here. Gluten-free baked goods, cookies, and cakes made with rice flour, sorghum flour, corn flour, or garbanzo bean flour are loaded with sugar. Sugar does not contain gluten; hence it’s used A LOT in foods that are gluten-free. A Heinen’s wellness consultant can help you navigate healthier sweet options that provide the sweet taste, but not the harmful fat or sugar. A favorite of mine are the Hail Merry Miracle Tarts. These are made with organic maple syrup, almond butter, dark cocoa, almond flour, organic virgin coconut oil, organic coconut flour and sea salt. These treats provide a much healthier burst of fiber and protein than traditional gluten-free cookies and pastries. Even those these tarts do contain sugar, they also contain fiber from the almond flour. When consumed with the healthy fat and fiber from the coconut and almonds, the absorption of sugar is much slower into the blood stream. The Hail Merry macaroons and tarts contain a high ratio of fat to sugar which helps with this slower absorption.
The lists of fun and favorable foods available to those that suffer from Celiac or are just choosing to go gluten-free goes on. Call anyone of your Heinen’s Wellness Consultants for a tour! Our passion is available to you to explore as well as the wonderful world of health and wellness we thrive in.
– MaryAlice Grassa – Heinen’s Brecksville Wellness Consultant