Bread isn’t just bread for those who can’t tolerate gluten — it’s a gut-wrenching problem food. And pasta? Forget it. About one in 141 people have celiac disease, according to the National Institutes of Health, and it causes an immune response when people eat gluten, a common protein in wheat, rye and barley. Another condition, gluten sensitivity, makes gluten a no-go as well.
Twila Massey, owner of the Gluten Free Cart, says that when she had to stop eating gluten, cooking anything that wasn’t a whole food was difficult. “My challenges were trying to get gluten-free so it wasn’t like cardboard,” she jokes. “When you get away from whole foods, baked goods are probably the hardest to find that are tasty and last and have any kind of a shelf life.”
Now she stocks a bevy of gluten-free products at the Gluten Free Cart, located downtown in a space shared with Alpine Catering and Pi Pizzeria. “The name stems from a grocery cart because I have baked goods, pastas, baking mixes, chips, hot sauces, soup mixes,” Massey says. “Hopefully I’m going to grow to a good enough variety where somebody can come in and pick up stuff for a whole dinner and know that what they’re picking is gluten-free.”
In addition to ready-to-cook products, Massey offers baked goods like French bread and hand pies. She says the hand pies, available in apple, cherry, lemon and blueberry, are among her most popular items, and they can be pre-ordered as whole pies, as well. “It was a challenge finding a pie crust that I liked that’s gluten-free. I’ve had a couple different recipes and I’ve finally gotten this one to where I like it,” she says. “It’s a cream cheese pie crust that’s great to work with. It cooks wonderfully, and I’ve been really happy with it.”
The Gluten Free Cart was part of the Eugenius Market in Springfield’s Gateway Mall before renovations forced a move to downtown Eugene. Massey says she’s still getting used to the difference in foot traffic but she does like the downtown area. “Great people come in, and I’m learning a lot every day,” she says. “I’m hoping to do a little bit more wholesale. I enjoy it down here. I love the people down here, and I love the area.”
The Gluten Free Cart is open noon to 9 pm Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 pm Sunday at 255 W. Broadway, 912-5370, theglutenfreecart.com.