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Cole's Fine Foods is making gluten-free eats as yummy as the normal stuff

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Jeanine Smith thinks gluten-free foods are disgusting. Or at least they usually are. What you can pick up at the store tastes like cardboard, crumbles apart in your hand and is chock-full of artificial ingredients, she says.

But the products she makes at her recently opened gluten-free shop, Cole's Fine Foods, aren't, says Smith. They're soft and flavorful. You don't have to believe her; just ask the people who call to tell her so.

The secret, she says, is she uses nothing artificial, no preservatives, and makes about nine different flour blends from alternatives like quinoa, brown rice, millet, potato and teff.

"I mix them together to make magical blends that work," says Smith.

So whether she's making an angel cake ($8.95), exceptionally moist vanilla bean scones ($2.95), brownies ($2.75), salted chocolate hazelnut cookies ($2.25) or seriously mouth-watering cinnamon rolls ($3.95; only made on Saturdays), they're each done with a different blend.

Smith has been working on the blends since 2008, when she had to switch up her cooking and baking habits because she found out she had celiac disease. A few years down the road she changed up her career, leaving 25 years in health care administration to open her food shop.

Serving from a dedicated 100-percent gluten-free kitchen is crucial for people with celiac disease; Smith also has customers with gluten-free diets come in who have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and children with autism.

The shop, with soft greens and blues and a Pinterest-like charm, is mostly for takeout. But there are a couple of tables if you want to enjoy a slice of pizza (available Mon-Fri, 11:30 am-1:30 pm) or a chai tea or Doma coffee.

You can pick up a frozen 14-inch artisan pizza ($12.95-$17.95) or a pan of dinner rolls for home. Lining the wall are items like handmade crackers and herb-encrusted cheese balls ($4.95 for a snack pack), granola ($6.95), pizza crust mix ($7.95) and barbecue rubs ($3.95). ♦

Cole's Fine Foods • 521 E. Holland • Open Mon-Fri, 10 am-7 pm; Sat, 10 am-3 pm • colesfinefoods.com • 413-1739

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