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Gluten-free Lehigh Valley

In 2018, gluten-related disorders (GRDs) had an estimated global prevalence of 5 percent. GRDs include the autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease, in which the body attacks itself in the presence of the gliadin proteins in gluten, as well as wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

People with GRDs must avoid consuming gluten, which means eliminating wheat-based products and gluten-contaminated products from their diets. Until recently, finding places to dine out was a challenge for Lehigh Valley residents with GRDs.

Facebook group

offers resources

When he moved to Easton from Staten Island a few months ago, Jeff Vilson, who has celiac disease, started a Facebook group called “Gluten-Free Easton PA” with the help of like-minded friends. One major draw of joining the group is access to the Facebook page’s pinned memo, updated at least monthly, that provides a list of member-submitted gluten-free dining options in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.

Jeff cautions group members that he does not independently verify the safety of any eating establishment for people with GRDs; however, he encourages those who submit eatery information to provide details and advises his fellow diners to call restaurants ahead of time to verify that food preparation is safe for their particular health concern.

Gluten Free Easton PA invites restaurant owners and gluten-free diners to join its Facebook group and add to the community’s awareness of gluten-free dining options and other issues of importance to the GRD community. Information on switching to a gluten-free diet is available at Celiac.org, the home of the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Favorite GF spots for Facebook group leader

Jeff notes that food prep procedures at Moe’s Southwest Grill in Easton (3509 Nazareth Road, 610-438-1972) put his mind at ease. Most of the ingredients at Moe’s are either fresh produce or non-breaded meats, which are naturally gluten-free, although the chain does sell wheat flour tortillas in addition to its gluten-free corn tortillas.

“They prep everything on wax paper,” Jeff explains, “and they always wear gloves, and you can ask them to change their gloves” before handling your order. He also applauds Moe’s use of a dedicated fryer for its corn tortillas.

“Moe’s is budget-friendly for most,” he adds, noting that gluten-free equivalents of wheat-based foods like bread and pizza are generally more costly in grocery stores and restaurants alike. For cooking at home, he appreciates the gluten-free spices available at Apna Punjab Indian Grocery Store in Bethlehem (3650 Nazareth Pike, 610-317-8627).

Restaurateurs with personal experience

Stonefield Farm Bakery (2093 Leithsville Road, Hellertown) specializes in gluten-free baked goods. Owner Nichole Malone spoke with the Press about her bakery and the life events that led to opening it. “I started this journey over 10 years ago,” she explains, “baking and cooking gluten-free for my husband, who was diagnosed with celiac disease, so a lot of my practices and initial costs to setting up my kitchen were put in place when we built our home and owning my own bakery wasn’t even a thought.”

Recognizing that Lehigh Valley residents who needed to avoid gluten were having trouble finding much beyond a few supermarket basics, Malone started baking commercially in October 2021, offering both gluten-free and traditional recipe baked goods.

Living with a person who has celiac disease means Malone takes cross-contamination risks seriously.

“I do not have a separate working area in my kitchen for preparation,” she explains. “What I do have is years of practice and the ability to plan my days for baking gluten-free and baking with traditional ingredients. For instance, if I have an order for gluten-free, that gets made in the morning before any other traditional dessert is made. Then if a traditional dessert is made, nothing gluten-free gets made for 24 hours and a thorough cleaning of all surfaces in the kitchen.”

Malone does use separate equipment for her gluten-free and traditional baking. This includes separate mixers, utensils, rolling pins, baking pans, and stainless steel bowls. She has a double oven, and uses the top oven only for gluten-free baking, and the bottom oven for everything else she bakes. Other precautions involve ingredient storage and food safety practices.

“I have two pantries in my home. One is to store all traditional ingredients (in airtight containers) and [the equipment for traditional baking], and the other is for all gluten-free ingredients (in airtight containers) and [the equipment for gluten-free baking].

“Gloves… lots and lots of gloves,” she adds. “That’s a given in any food industry, and part of ServSafe certification.”

Orders can be placed online (www.StonefieldFarmBakery.com) or by phone (610-704-1391); Bergey’s General Store (3540 Lower Saucon Road, Hellertown) also carries a limited supply of baked goods from Stonefield.

The Easton Wine Project, located in the Simon Silk Mill (1247 Simon Blvd., Ste. N103, Easton), serves gluten-free items on its “Better Than Bar Food” menu, as well as offering gluten-free buns and crusts for its sandwiches and flatbreads. Bowls and salads on the current menu are gluten-free, as well as one of the three desserts presently on offer.

Owners Justin and Sharon Fretz designed their menu to include gluten-free foods because Sharon, whose autoimmune disease necessitates adherence to a gluten-free diet, had trouble finding places to eat. General manager Amanda Thatcher spoke with the Press about the wine bar’s allergy protocols.

“We don’t have a separate gluten-free area,” she explains. “What we have is an allergy protocol.” Patrons are asked to inform their servers of any allergies or dietary preferences; when servers are told about an allergy, they click an “allergy alert” button on their order tablet, which notifies the entire kitchen.

As soon as the kitchen receives an allergy alert, a space is cleared and sanitized to prevent cross-contamination. Fresh tools and utensils are brought out to prepare the allergen-free order.

“Everyone on the line is alerted,” Thatcher explains, so appropriate procedures are followed for plating and serving the order without contaminating it.

The Easton Wine Project is one of the original commercial tenants at the repurposed silk mill buildings, and has been in business for about four years. Information on hours and reservations is available online and by phone (EastonWineProject.com, 610-438-2533).

The Flying V, which operates a restaurant (201 E. Third St., Bethlehem), catering service, and food truck, specializes in poutine, a Canadian French fry-based entrée. Ali Transue, one of the managers, has celiac disease, and spoke with the Press about the cross-contamination prevention protocols in place.

“While we do offer sandwiches that contain gluten, we have a separate preparation area, cutting board, and griddle,” Transue explains. “We also have designated towels to use around gluten and we change gloves while moving from gluten to anywhere else.”

She further describes the kitchen setup: “Gluten never touches our fryers, so all fryers in our poutinerie are designated gluten-free.”

Most menu items are safe for people with GRDs: “All of our fries, poutines, and vegan poutines are gluten-free. Even our fried popcorn chicken is gluten-free. Some specials contain gluten, but we take precautions in preparation and label accordingly.” For example, the sweet chili sauce is labeled “may contain gluten.” Catering and food truck information are available online and by phone (www.TheFlying-V-com, 610-419-2530).

Two completely

gluten-free options

Haasis Gluten Free Bakery (316 W. Walnut St., Perkasie) offers dine-in, catering and takeout options. The entire store is gluten-free, peanut- and tree nut-free, sesame seed-free, soy-free, oat-free, pea protein-free, fish-free, shellfish-free and artificial dye-free. Some items are also dairy-free or vegan. Menu items include bagels, soft pretzels, pizza, and a wide variety of sweet treats. Although the menu is available online (www.HaasisGlutenFreeBakery.com), orders must be placed by phone (215-853-0222).

Indigo 52, which opened Feb. 8 at 52 S. Main St. in Nazareth, is completely gluten-free and dairy-free. Menu items include chickpea-crust pizza for kids, stuffed French toast for brunch, and a ginger chicken entrée with spinach, red peppers, and toasted almonds. The café’s website advises reservations, because the dining area is small. More information is available online and by phone and email (www.Indigo52.cafe, 610-365-2026, info@indigo52.cafe).

Easton Center Square rich in options

The Easton Public Market (325 Northampton St., Easton) has several vendors with gluten-free items available. The Press spoke with three of them: Chocodiem, Modern Crumb, and Green Vida.

Chocodiem offers certified gluten-free macaroons. Some of the Belgian chocolatier’s other products, such as truffles and packaged grab-and-go nuts and espresso beans, are also made without gluten; however, owner J.P. Hepp says that cross-contamination of the truffles and grab-and-go items cannot be ruled out. Regarding other special diets, Hepp highlights the vegan molded dark chocolate pieces and vegan hot chocolate mix, which is suitable for preparation with plant-based “milk” products. Customers can call or visit online (Chocodiem-US.com, 973-518-2789).

The Modern Crumb Bakeshop offers several gluten-free items, including the very popular oatmeal sandwich cookies with cream cheese filling and the fudge brownie. Professionally trained pastry chef Kathryn Gaffney, who owns the bakery, says that she doesn’t make anything gluten-free “unless you can’t taste the difference” between the gluten-free item and a traditional wheat-based recipe. To prevent cross-contamination, all gluten-free items are baked on their own baking trays, without any gluten-containing items in the oven at that time. The bakery uses certified gluten-free oatmeal from Bob’s Red Mill, a favorite brand among people with celiac disease. (Along with Shawnee Baking Co., Modern Crumb provides gluten-free bakery treats to the Forks Twp. location of Green Vida Co.) More information is available online and by phone (www.TheModernCrumbBakeShop.com, 610-333-8640).

Green Vida Co., which has both a storefront at 1800 Sullivan Trail., Suite 330, and a stall inside the Easton Public Market, specializes in raw, organic, cold-pressed juices. Owner Jackie Rueda reports that 75 percent of the items on the food menu are gluten-free, and that the sandwiches, wraps, toasts and Caesar salad can be prepared without gluten by substituting gluten-free bread. Although Green Vida uses locally baked wheat products, its gluten-free bread is pre-packaged and certified gluten-free. Like many proprietors, Rueda has a personal reason to offer gluten-free foods.

“It is important to us to have these options for all of our guests in addition to organic and locally sourced food,” she tells the Press. “I have a son with autism that was GF and dairy free for many years. A gluten-free, casein-free, and organic diet helped with his behavioral health and development and put us on a path to healing.” Green Vida can be reached online and by phone (www.GreenVidaCompany.com, 610-438-4112, 610-905-1701).

Just around the corner from the public market is Third and Ferry Fish Market (56 S. Third St., Easton), with many options for people with special diets, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and pescatarian. General manager Danya Kinsman reports that patrons are asked when they make a reservation and when they place their order whether they have any allergies or dietary restrictions, and the kitchen is informed accordingly. Although there is not a dedicated gluten-free area in the kitchen, all items are made to order, and tools and utensils are sanitized before each change of entrée. French fries, which are gluten-free, are prepared in their own dedicated fryer. Information on hours and reservations is available online and by phone (ThirdAndFerry.com, 610-829-1404).

Other noteworthy

local spots

Starting with the list of restaurants recommended by members of Gluten Free Easton PA, we attempted to verify gluten-free offerings and cross-contamination prevention protocols at local eateries. Information listed below was current at press time. Readers should be aware that restaurant practices and suppliers can change. People with dietary restrictions are advised to call any eating establishment in advance to verify that menu items and cross-contamination practices suit their individual needs.

Aman’s Artisan Indian Cuisine (336 Northampton St., Easton) lists several gluten-free items on its menu, including vegetable pakora (which uses garbanzo flour-based batter), chili paneer, and malai kofta. Patrons are asked to notify the restaurant of any dietary restrictions and allergies when placing an order. More information is available online and by phone (www.AmansEaston.com, 484-298-0400).

Daddy’s Place (650 Northampton St., Easton) offers a wide variety of Middle Eastern foods, most of which are naturally gluten-free. Menu items include several types of hummus, Daddy’s mixed grill (beef, chicken, kafta, and lamb), and a vegetarian platter with eggplant, peppers, zucchini, artichokes, and onions. More information, including full menus and full bar information, are available online and by phone (DaddysPlaceEaston.com, 610-438-4442).

Forks Mediterranean Deli (1530 Sullivan Trl., Easton) sells gluten-free cashew cookies. A full menu is available online (ForksMediterraneanDeli.com, 610-250-0711).

Fresh Tortillas (837 Third Ave., Alpha, N.J.) makes several rice dishes that are naturally gluten-free, as well as offering gluten-free tortillas for its tacos. A full menu, as well as delivery and takeout information, are available online (www.FreshTortillasAlpha.net, 908-454-1180).

La Kang Thai-French Cuisine (190 S. Greenwood Ave., Easton) offers several menu items that are naturally gluten-free, such as pad thai. For more information and a full menu, call or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LaKangThaiFrench, 610-438-0301).

La Perla Tapatia (308 Old Mill Road, Easton) has a wide variety of gluten-free options on its menu, from pico de gallo tacos served in corn tortillas to three different varieties of flautas. More information is available online and by phone (laperlatapatia1126.weebly.com, 610-438-3796).

Lehigh Valley BBQ (154 Northampton St, Easton) offers gluten-free substitutions for its pasta dishes, and serves many “GF-friendly” menu items, including Texas cowboy baked beans and smoked chicken wings. More information is available online and by phone (www.LehighValley-BBQ.com, 484-541-9686).

Mama’s & Café Baci (260 Mountain Ave., Hackettstown, N.J.) is an Italian restaurant with a large gluten-free menu, including meals, desserts, dairy-free items, vegan items and kid-friendly items. Mama’s has a dedicated gluten-free prep area with its own equipment, and trains kitchen and waitstaff to handle food in ways that prevent cross-contamination. Hours and menu are online; more information is available by phone (www.MamasCafeBaci.com, 908-852-2820).

Naz-O-Nut (64 E. Lawn St., Nazareth) is a coffee shop with a variety of freshly baked wheat-based donuts, plus three flavors of gluten-free mini donuts. Helena Lazzarini of Naz-O-Nut explains, “We always felt that at times there could be family members or friends that cannot eat our donuts, and we wanted to have the option for them to be able to enjoy their sweet donuts together with our donuts.” The gluten-free donuts are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility and stored in individual plastic packaging; the varieties currently available are glazed, apple cider and devil’s food chocolate. Hours and other information are available online and by phone (www.NazONutShop.com, 610-365-2244).

Picasso Pizza II (271 Town Center Blvd., Easton) offers a wide variety of specialty gluten-free pizzas. The full menu is available online; more information is available by phone (www.PicassoPizzaEaston.com, 610-923-7795).

Rios Brazilian Steakhouse (at 127 S. Broad St., Nazareth) has several gluten-free meats, as well as naturally gluten-free cheesy bread. More information is available online and by phone (RiosBR.com, 610-614-1018).

Saylors & Co., a butcher shop with locations in Hellertown (1105 Main St., 610-838-6363) and at the Easton Public Market (325 Northampton St., 484-544-4810) offers a range of gluten-free meats, smoked meats, and sausages. Although Saylors is not a gluten-free facility, all meats are cut on a dedicated gluten-free butcher block that is frequently sanitized. More information is available online (www.SaylorsAndCo.com).

Shawnee Baking Co., a “traveling bakery” with an online shop and a pop-up physical presence at seasonal markets, bakes gluten-free products upon request. These items are baked in foil pans to prevent cross-contamination. More information is available online and by phone (shawnee-baking-co.ueniweb.com, 707-655-6096).

SURV Restaurant (1800 Sullivan Trail, Easton) allows diners to request gluten-free crust for its seven varieties of wood-fired pizza, as well as offering its sausage and chicken rigatoni with gluten-free pasta. The full menu is available online; more information is available by phone (SURVEaston.com, 484-544-0624).

Wegmans (3791 Easton Nazareth Hwy., Easton) catering offers a wide variety of salads, entrées, and other menu items that are made without gluten. The “made with no gluten” section of the catering menu notes, “even our tempura is made with only corn and rice flour!” For more information, see the website (https://www.wegmans.com/service/faq/meals2go/) or call the store (610-515-2400).

PRESS PHOTO BY MARK KIRLIN Matt Vymazal, co-owner of the Flying V Poutinerie with his wife Christie. The Flying V Poutinerie offers Canadian dishes, including several gluten free options on the menu.
The Flying V Poutinerie opened in August 2020 at 201 East Third St. in Bethlehem. The establishment also operates a food truck that has been nominated for best food truck in the Lehigh Valley two years in a row.
Nichole Malone, owner of the Stonefield Farm Bakery, offers a variety of delicious baked goods with gluten free or traditional ingredients. All deserts are made from scratch and can be ordered at www.stonefieldfarmbakery.com.
A coconut cake with coconut butter cream frosting from Stonefield Farm Bakery. The home-based bakery officially opened in 2021 and is located in Lower Saucon Township.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF NICHOLE MALONE Gluten-free vanilla Oreo cake with Oreo icing and chocolate ganache drizzle, from Stonefield Farm Bakery.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF J.P. HEPP Chocodiem, located in the Easton Public Market, sells certified gluten-free macarons in a variety of flavors.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF EASTON WINE PROJECT The Easton Wine Project, located in the Simon Silk Mill, celebrated National Pizza Day on Feb. 9 with gluten-free pizza (made with cauliflower-based crusts) and traditional wheat-based flatbreads. Flatbreads are also available with gluten-free crusts.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF ALI TRANSUE The Buffalo is a popular poutine sold at The Flying V in Bethlehem.
PRESS PHOTO COURTESY OF DANYA KINSMAN 005: Third & Ferry Fish Market's entire raw bar is gluten-free.