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Cook's Corner

  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Baker feeds customers, family from the oven
    Krysta Young of Fort Wayne has been baking cakes out of her home for a while.
I still want to learn …
A. A great recipe for paleo bread. No harvested grains. Nothing refined. It has to be just as it is.
I can’t wait to …
A. Go on vacation. I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Amanda Williams owns Serendipity Sweets in Roanoke.

Roanoke nurse bakes up gluten-free treats

– Amanda Williams has been an emergency room nurse for 20 years and is working at Parkview Health.

Since January, the 41-year-old mother of three, (Hannah, 15, Bethany, 14, and Samuel, 7), has been the owner of Serendipity Sweets in Roanoke. In her certified kitchen, Williams bakes up gluten-free products.

“In my home, I do have a mix of gluten. But out there,” she says pointing to the certified kitchen located in another building, “There is no gluten. No cross-contamination.”

After her son was born, Williams says she found her health was going into a noticeable decline.

“I had been sick for a long, long time. My husband, Nate, had a friend that he went to school with and his wife is a nutritionist. We took a few things out of my diet and it took a while but we whittled it out,” she explains.

Williams began to experiment by baking a variety of products using different flours.

“I didn’t want to lose any nutrition and not have just rice and starch,” she says. “I wanted to have whole grains. What I could have. I learned what grains are gluten-free. I would bake things and take it to Parkview in Huntington and here and ask them if they liked it. My kids called it ‘freak food.’ They would ask, ‘is this regular food or freak food?’ ”

She figured out which flours would work and which to leave out of certain foods.

“Garfava flour – it’s garbanzo and fava beans. But you don’t want your desserts to taste like a vegetable,” she says.

Williams says she can recall baking as a young girl with her mother, Helen Beason of Illinois.

“My mother was an insane baker,” she says. “I don’t remember anything not made from scratch. I was taught real young and I made bread. I remember baking bread with my mother. I would be kneading it and she’d say, ‘spank the baby.’ ”

Williams is finding the demand for gluten-free products ever increasing. Her clients include mothers of school-age children who find her products helpful for classroom holiday and birthday celebrations.

“There’s a huge demand. I tell people this is something I never grew up to do. I wanted to be a nurse. I have a couple of ladies that I make something, they take it to school. Because it’s from a certified kitchen, the school keeps it in the freezer and when a holiday or birthday comes up, they have a treat,” she says.

To stay organized, Williams keeps cards on her returning clients.

“So I know when I’m baking for that person I know what I’m replacing,” she says referring to the client’s dietary restrictions.

She’s also found that by having custom orders, she has less waste.

“Farmers markets are the only time I bake something up and I don’t know if it will all sell,” she notes.

Q. Where do you find your recipes and ideas?

A. Oddly, I get a lot of my recipes from my mom, also “Gluten-Free Fast and Easy.” Now, 80 percent of what I try is from and then I convert them. I’ll print off – like lemon bars – the top three and change those. There’s a lot of dairy-free, too. Most often we’re doing gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and vegan.

Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?

A. That’s a toughie. My favorite right now is my ginormous Viking mixer. The Friday before the farmers market, I use it to do 30 loaves of bread. I can’t imagine doing that by hand!

Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?

A. I’m a vegetableholic. If a leafy green is a vegetable, I’d say kale. I make a kale smoothie every day.

Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one food you would have to have?

A. It would be a combo of baby carrots and hummus. You know what my junk food is? Little baby marshmallows. I like the generic version. I count out 15 to 20 and eat them. They’re junk, junk, junk but they taste (like) heaven.

Q. What’s something people would not find in your refrigerator?

A. Liver, of any species. Can’t do it.

Zucchini Bread

4 tablespoons golden flaxmeal

3/4 cup hot water

3 cups gluten-free flour blend

1 1/2 teaspoons Xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups shredded zucchini

3/4 cup light agave nectar

2/3 cup light olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup vanilla rice milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Mix flaxmeal and hot water together in small dish; let set 10 minutes until it becomes a gel. Mix all dry ingredients in separate bowl; stir together with whisk. Mix zucchini, agave, oil, vanilla, rice milk and flaxmeal gel in mixer bowl of stand-up mixer until well blended, stopping and scraping bottom and sides at least once. Add dry ingredients to wet. Mix on low 10 seconds, then stop and scrape sides and bottom well. Mix at medium speed an additional 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into pans equally. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans. Allow to cool completely on wire rack. Recommend to cool completely before slicing. Wrap in plastic wrap tightly if freezing or storing. Makes 2 loaves. Note: May add blueberries, or Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (nut-free/dairy-free/soy-free).

Crustless Spinach Quiche

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon onion flakes or small chopped onion

2 cups fresh chopped spinach

6 large eggs-beaten

1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté onion flakes in olive oil, then add spinach until wilted down. Allow to cool slightly. In separate bowl, add cheese and mushrooms to beaten eggs. Mix all of the ingredients together in a 9-inch pie dish and place in oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden. Makes 6 servings.

Manda’s Baked Mac and Cheese

1 1/2 cups gluten-free elbow noodles

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions, but leave slightly al dente, drain and rinse. Place in a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish; set aside. While pasta is cooking, in a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir gluten-free flour in until smooth. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes; reduce heat. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper until cheese is melted. Pour over macaroni; mix well. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly around edges. Makes 5 servings. Note: Also works to put this in a slow cooker on low instead of oven for family gatherings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648 or email