Gluten, Nut, and Peanut Free in Salem, Virginia!

If you’re living in (or visiting) the Roanoke/Salem area of Southwest Virginia, make sure you add Corbin’s Confections to your list of places to stop!

Corbin’s Confections is a simply marvelous bakery, which is 100% gluten free, peanut free, and nut free. And 100% delicious. The bakery is owned by Shana Brown and family, and her son is Corbin. Everything they make is safe for him; prepared in a guaranteed safe kitchen. Nothing in this bakery contains gluten, peanuts, or tree-nuts. Nothing contains products which are, “made in a facility that processes,” or are “made on the same equipment as” gluten, peanuts, or tree-nuts. And nothing in Corbin’s Confections “may contain” gluten, peanuts, or tree-nuts.

Shana’s mission is to provide a place where anyone with gluten, peanut, or tree-nut allergies can get tasty treats at a reasonable price.

They prepare beautiful personalized cakes for any occasion! They also have a variety of items in stock at all times, such as cupcakes, pies, donuts, biscuits, eclairs, scones, bread loaves, rolls, cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, snack cakes, and more!

Their current menu (April 2018) lists the following prices:

  • Baguette, $3.99
  • Bread Loaf, $8.00
  • Brownie, $2.99
  • Pumpernickel round, $5.99
  • Cake slice, $3.75
  • Cinnamon Rolls, $3.25
  • Cookies/Donuts, $1.75
  • Cupcakes, $2.95
  • Mini Cupcakes, $1.25
  • Eclairs, $3.49
  • Pie slice (single crust), $3.29
  • Pie slice (double crust), $4.09
  • Rolls/Biscuits/Scones, $2.19
  • Snack Cakes, $3.32

As someone who must eat gluten-free, and as someone who enjoys bakeries immensely, I have been to a number of GF and GF/Nut free bakeries up and down the east coast, Texas, Arizona, and California. I can tell you that the prices at Corbin’s Confections are incredibly reasonable, particularly for a gluten-free bakery. As anyone who must eat gluten-free knows, gluten free ingredients are ridiculously expensive, but Shana manages not to pass that cost onto her customers.

I’ve never regretted any purchase from Corbin’s. Everything is delicious. And everyone is warm, genuine, and friendly.

This bakery opened in 2016, and they were listed in SWVA Living as Reader’s Choice Best New Business. In 2017, they were nominated Best New Small Business by Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce!

You can find Corbin’s Confections at:

18 East Main Street
Salem, VA 24153
540-404-0300

Current Hours (I recommend checking their FB page to confirm in the future):

  • Tuesday – Friday, 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Saturday, 10:00am – 3:00pm
  • Sunday & Monday: Closed

A Better Way Bakery

Although I don’t live in Western New York, I am a member of the WNY Gluten Free Diet Support group on Facebook. I have family in Buffalo, and when I visit, I want to know places that I can go out to eat, rather than preparing everything as I do at home. People in the group post about many different places; those dedicated gluten free and the ones that accommodate to the best of their ability (some better than others). But there’s one place which is mentioned over and over and over. A Better Way Bakery.

This was clearly a place I had to try, and on my most recent trip to Buffalo, I got my chance. Once we finally got a day with good weather, my Mom and I made the trip out to Lockport (33, to 90, to 290, to 990 . . . some town roads). I’m good with directions, she’s good with the GPS. And the photos from their website told me that unlike many GF bakeries, this was not a hole-in-the-wall. This is a place we’d be able to find easily. And we did. And it was. You’ll have no trouble finding A Better Way Bakery. And there is plenty of off-street parking!!

Anyone who has been gluten free for awhile knows the disappointment of being out with friends or family, and watching everyone else enjoy baked goods, while there is nothing safe for you. Or maybe there’s one thing you can have — but it came prepackaged and wasn’t that fresh. We dream about a bakery where we can walk in and eat absolutely everything. And where you’ll find all the baked goods, sweet and savory, that your heart desires.

That is what you will find at A Better Way. Along with the nicest people. They were inspired to go gluten free for their children, all of whom have Celiac. They learned that while cooking gluten free wasn’t too hard, baking was an entirely different story. This bakery shows the outcome of years of reading, researching, and trial and error.

I for one, am extremely grateful to this couple for not only finding a better way to provide wonderful gluten free food for their children, but for their willingness to open a magnificent bakery and cafe. Yup. You can go there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner too!

The bakery itself is beautiful. Very inviting. The tables are a good size and the chairs are comfortable. The room feels light and airy. It’s colorful, but not overly bright, and the air? It smells amazing. This is a bakery from your dreams.

Cookies & Muffins, variety
Cookies & Muffins, variety

I was sorely tempted to order breakfast (banana-stuffed French toast, anyone?) but then I spotted it. A Better Reuben. The sandwich of my dreams. Except that I don’t really eat beef any more, and he couldn’t guarantee the corned beef was nitrate-free. But he offered me a great solution: A Turkey Reuben, which I knew existed, but which I’d never had before. He told me he can guarantee the turkey was nitrate-free because he roasts one himself every day. So I took him up on that. The sandwiches come with a very tasty pickle and home made potato chips. Both delicious.

The sandwich nearly made me cry. That’s how good it was. In fact, if it wouldn’t have made my nose too stuffed to eat, I may have actually cried. AMAZING. I took a second sandwich to go! The un-real rye is perfection; you’ll never know it’s gluten free. Turkey, piled high with sauerkraut, homemade Thousand Island, and wonderful Swiss cheese. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

I can’t remember which specific sandwich my Mom ordered, but she enjoyed it! She ordered hers on the multigrain bread. She loved it, so we took a loaf home. It totally changed my opinion on toast! I’ve never been a fan, but if I can have this bread for toast? Count me in! It makes great sandwiches too, and it’s the size of non-GF bread! If you go to the bottom of their Products page, you’ll find helpful information on how to best store your purchases. It says their bread/rolls will typically last a month or more if kept in the freezer . . . but I ate the loaf we got too fast to find out!

If you look through the slideshow below, you’ll get to see the variety of baked goods we bought, in addition to the cookies and muffins, and took back to my Mom’s sisters’ house. Everything was thoroughly enjoyed! I am especially in love with the Banana Cream Pie, the Cut-Out Cookies, all of the cupcakes (oh, my, that frosting! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!), and the little chocolate cookies that look like bees!

It took us about 30 minutes (one way) from where my aunts live in Buffalo to get to the bakery. Totally and completely worth it. Their products are of the quality that would entice you drive out there every day. Maybe multiple times a day. I don’t know when I’ll be back in Buffalo again, but I think know multiple visits are definitely going to be a part of it! Must try that stuffed French toast next time!

Oh, and if you’re a fan of fish fries and have been missing them? I hear they have them every Friday.

Need catering? Food at a wedding? Or other special occasions? They have a page on their website for you to contact them about it all.

And you definitely won’t be sorry.

A Better Way Gluten Free Bakery
6429 Dysinger Road
Lockport, NY, 14094

Phone: 1-716-471-3305

Hours of Operation
Tuesday – Thursday | 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday | 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Sunday & Monday | CLOSED

Betsy’s Bakery

Pumpkin Spice, Lemon w/Buttercream, and Vegan Chocolate cupcakes! (click to see at full size)
Pumpkin Spice, Lemon w/Buttercream, and Vegan Chocolate cupcakes! (click to view at full size)

On October 9, T and I headed up to PA for a brief vacation in the Pocono Mountains. On the way, we made a quick detour to check out Betsy’s Bakery, in Camp Hill, PA. This bakery is just minutes from the split on I-81, that diverts to Harrisburg one way, Camp Hill the other. Since we were coming from Abingdon, VA, we were a little worried that we wouldn’t make it before they closed for the evening, but luck was on our side! Shortly after arriving, I was asked, “are you the food blogger that was coming?” and Betsy told me she’d been asking people that day if they were the blogger that was coming . I have to tell you that this made my day! It’s the little things, you know? 🙂

Bread

Betsy immediately offered us two slices of bread to sample — their white bread, and their high fiber Quinoa bread. Both were amazing. Their breads are soft and springy, with the air holes you expect to see in sandwich bread, and each piece was also rich with flavor. We ended up buying a loaf of the white bread, but I would definitely buy a loaf of the Quinoa bread in the future for a hearty toast! I did love the white bread though, and I’d get it again. Loved it at breakfast with an over easy egg!

White bread, toasted w/soy free Earth Balance
White bread, toasted w/soy free Earth Balance (click to view at full size)
White Bread, untoasted
White Bread,  not toasted  (click to view at full size)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top image (in this post) shows the amazing cupcakes we purchased. Chocolate is my favorite treat, so I always buy at least one chocolate item when given the chance. Since I wasn’t going to be the only tasting these, I looked for flavors I thought would appeal to others too, and ended up with Pumpkin Spice and Lemon w/Buttercream. I shared them with T and our good friend Vanessa.

 

Vegan Chocolate Cupcake

You’ll never know it’s vegan.

Vanessa: The texture is good. Dense, rich, not too sweet by itself (without the frosting). Not too sweet with the frosting either, like many cupcakes which give you a sugar headache. I could even do more chocolate, like sprinkles or morsels. Overall, great for someone who loves chocolate but not a lot of sweetness. I’d buy it.

T: Good chocolate flavor. Sprinkles added a nice touch. Agrees with Vanessa that it is not overly sweet.

Me: Frosting is very creamy and rich, but not overpowering. I LOVED the heart sprinkles; great touch! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Smooth, rich, decadent, but not too sweet. I actually bought two of the chocolate, and ate the second one 4 days after we bought it, and it still tasted and felt fresh (kept in the box they were packaged in, and set out on the kitchen table, not in the refrigerator). Neither the icing nor the cake were dried out, nor hardened after all that time, which is quite an accomplishment for any cupcake, gluten free or not!

Pumpkin Spice

Vanessa:  Oh! Smells very good. Lots of cinnamon and pumpkin. Icing tastes like cream cheese icing + cinnamon. Cake itself is good. Not too dry. Icing and cake together is REALLY good. Definitely not as sweet as a regular cupcake. Really like this one. Cream cheese icing does a lot. This one is my favorite (but then, I do LOVE pumpkin)!

T: Frosting is sweet but it is a great contrast to the cupcake. They work well together. Definitely my favorite of the two (not a lemon fan, so she didn’t try the third).

Me: I agreed with Vanessa’s initial statement, and with T about the frosting and cupcake working well together. I also love pumpkin, but there was an aftertaste in this flavor for me that I didn’t care for (I was the only one who noticed), but it may simply be the spice blend used. Some pumpkin pie/pumpkin spice flavors I love, others not so much, but not sure what (spice) does it. Overall, though, great holiday flavor.

Lemon w/Buttercream

Vanessa: Sprinkles are awesome; aesthetically pleasing. Definitely can smell the lemon. Icing first: Interesting (good). Not sweet at all, but a real, pure lemon flavor. If you’re into lemon, this is definitely it. Together: Yes, that’s good. Not an overbearing lemon flavor; very subtle when altogether. It’s lovely. Second favorite, but sort of tied with chocolate. 🙂 Lemon is least sweet of three flavors. Just a hint of it. I don’t feel like I’m going to die of a sugar headache like you often find with cupcakes. For the lemon lover!

Me: I concur with Vanessa’s assessment of this cupcake. I love lemon (as long as it isn’t sour lemon), and if I hadn’t gotten chocolate, this would probably be my favorite. It reminded me of a delicate and creamy lemon meringue pie!

 

Coffee Cake

We also purchased coffee cake, but I didn’t get a chance to photograph it. But we agree that it smelled and tasted marvelous! T adds that it definitely had that “distinct coffee cake taste and I’d definitely get it again.” And that’s coming from someone who isn’t really even a fan of sweets!

 

BetsysBakery

 

I’ve been to several gluten free bakeries, and most of them are small. One in NYC was only a bit wider than two doors side-by-side; they had bar stools and a counter, but boy was it crowded!

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Betsy’s Bakery is so much more. Not only can you fill up on all the baked goods and breads you’ve been craving, but you can have a sit-down meal too in a nicely spaced dining room! Betsy’s offers Boar’s Head products — including (I just learned this yesterday) hummus, which I didn’t even know Boar’s Head made!

This makes Betsy’s an even better place in our eyes, because it is on route to the place we vacation in the Poconos, as well as T’s Mom’s up in NY. Now, unless we’re travelling on Monday (when their website says they’re closed), we have a place we can stop for an actual meal on the road, instead of relying on snacks or cold travel foods (yes, it is possible to have way too many PBJs!).  We have a trip coming up next month and I know where we’re stopping for a late lunch/early dinner!

I knew going to Betsy’s that the bakery was 100% gluten free, but she can also cater to a variety of allergies. There are vegan options in addition to the cupcake we tried, dairy free, egg free, sugar free, and soy free! Betsy told us that she’s very careful about how everything is prepared, and color codes kitchenware to ensure there is no cross contamination.  They have products which are nut free, but they do use nuts, so given how serious a nut allergy can be, each customer would need to make the decision for themselves.

Their website also notes that, “Not every item on our menu is available every day – if you know that you would like something specific call 717-730-9900 to place a special order.”

If you’re in the Camp Hill area, you may be able to find Betsy’s products in some grocery stores, cafes, and even some colleges (which I think is especially awesome). Go here for the list.

And, not only is this a 100% gluten free bakery with sit-down table and meal options, it is owned by two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I can’t wait to go back next month!

Gluten Free Weddings?

Yes, it’s entirely possible with the right vendors, location, and awareness to have an entirely gluten free wedding, or one in which your gluten-free bride, groom, bridal party, or guests can be easily accommodated. We even managed vegan for two people! Hopefully as awareness and understanding regarding the gluten free lifestyle evolves, gluten free weddings will become easier and easier. No one wants to miss out on their own reception and wedding cake, but who wants to be sick on their big day? No one that I know!

Once T and I figured out where we wanted to get married, the next challenge was the menu, which ended up being a many, many, many months-project, so don’t worry if yours takes just as long or longer.   We had our wedding at the beautiful and luxurious Red Coach Inn in Niagara Falls, NY.

RCICollage2aa
Images 1, 3, & 4 courtesy of the Red Coach Inn. Image 2 photographed on our wedding day by Ernie Bastiaans. (Click to view at full size)

The staff at the Inn were completely ready and willing to work with us on all aspects of our wedding and our reception menu.

The manager of the Inn, Ann Hendrick, along with Chef Mark Janiszewski, and Sales Coordinator Lisa Orth, sat down with me, T, and my Mom, in May 2013, to make sure everything would be exactly the way we wanted it. I also exchanged numerous helpful emails with Chef Joshua Jackson. When we returned in June for our wedding, Lisa sat down with me in the (green) banquet room we would be using, so that we could finalize the last minute arrangements, table settings, and so forth. Her help was invaluable.

So many places we considered made using their food or caterers a requirement, yet were not capable of handling special diets. One of the chefs (Jackson) working on our wedding was even willing to make my dishes separately, on another floor, away from the kitchen, with brand new pots and pans, for which I was incredibly grateful. Ann had no problems with us bringing in outside food (meals and wedding cake), which was great, as, ultimately, we decided to go with an outside caterer for the gluten free and vegan menu items. This let the Inn fully concentrate on their wonderful dishes for everyone else!

Our wedding menu for our non-special-diet guests consisted of Black Angus Prime Rib with Cabernet Au Jus, One Half Virginia Duckling with Apricot Glaze, or Block Island Swordfish with Lemon Butter Sauce. Each came with a selected side and vegetable dish. We had heard great things about the talented chefs at the Red Coach Inn, and our guests were not disappointed.

T and our guests who ate one of these dishes had nothing but good things to say about the food.

Additionally, we paid only a $25.00 deposit fee to hold the banquet room for our wedding date, and when we had to move our wedding from 2012 to 2013, it wasn’t a problem for the Inn at all. When I asked about other costs, they told me the only other costs would be if they catered any of the wedding menu and if we were actually staying there (which we did, thanks to my parents).

Nottingham Suite: Bedroom & Kitchen photos courtesy of the Red Coach Inn. Bathroom photos taken by Amanda Grabler on 6-5-2013.
Nottingham Suite: Bedroom & Kitchen photos courtesy of the Red Coach Inn. Bathroom photos taken by Amanda Grabler on 6-5-2013.

There was just one thing after another that made us incredibly grateful to have found and selected the Red Coach Inn for our wedding. If you look at their Facebook page, you will find an unending supply of comments praising the Inn for one thing or another!

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My meal at the reception was gluten-free chicken pot pie. My Mom and younger brother enjoyed gluten-free, vegan lasagna and vegan lentil soup. We also enjoyed a beautiful two-layer chocolate wedding cake decorated with flowers in our wedding colors (plum and clover) with soft white cream-cheese icing, 6 gluten-free and vegan cupcakes (half chocolate, half vanilla), and 36 gluten-free cupcakes (half chocolate, half vanilla), all with vanilla icing. Additionally, the vegan cupcakes came with plum coloring swirled into their vanilla icing so that it was clear which were which.

 

Wedding Cake & Cupcakes
Wedding Cake & Cupcakes by De Healthy Baker, photo by Ernie Bastiaans

And where did we acquire such wonderful meals and cake? De Healthy Baker in Niagara Falls, Canada. Estelle (the baker) is marvelous. You really must stop by her bakery if you’re in the area, sample her treats and talk with her if you have time. She is a really, really nice woman, and we are glad to know her. If we’re able to go back to Niagara Falls for our anniversary, I know where we’ll be getting an anniversary cake from!

When we met Estelle to try a sample of her cupcakes, we told her what we were thinking about doing with the Inn for GF meals and a pricey but tasty Buffalo-area bakery, and she mentioned catering. WOW!  That changed everything! We could get amazingly delicious wedding cake and have it catered?  Long story short, we re-evaluated our plans and went with De Healthy Baker for our specialty meals and dessert.

You can’t go wrong if you go with Estelle (De Healthy Baker). She is kind, capable, and really understands cross contamination. Her bakery is 100% gluten free, and as her website says, “We also serve those who need lactose free, egg free and sugar free foods as well as any others who live with food allergies.” Although her bakery is not 100% vegan, my younger brother, who cannot have dairy, did not report any issues with his meal or the vegan cupcakes. He and my Mom  both really liked their dishes, and my Mom said, “The vegan lasagna was delicious — couldn’t tell it was vegan or gluten free; it was just good food. I thoroughly enjoyed it!”

My chicken pot pies (the order is two small dishes), were amazing. The crust was flaky on the outside, soft on the inside, the filling just right. Chicken pot pie was a favorite of mine before I went gluten free. I didn’t really think I’d have a good one again, but I was wrong. These were amazing, and left me wishing we’d ordered more!

And unlike so many gluten free bakeries, De Healthy Baker provides not only delicious gluten-free fare, but that which is affordable too!

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Now that we had the location and menu taken care of, we had one more problem to solve: make-up.  We’re not the make-up type, but for this, we gave in, and I started researching gluten-free make-up. If you’re new to the gluten-free life, you may wonder why this would even be a concern, but think a moment: anything that is on your face has an incredibly good chance of winding up in your mouth, particularly lipstick, or even blush or eye make-up (you tear up, wipe your face, don’t wash your hands, touch your food . . .). On top of which, gluten also causes many people to breakout in a rash, both from eating gluten and some from simply touching it.

I was able to find gluten free lipstick right away through Red Apple Lipstick, but they didn’t carry everything we needed, and I felt it would be easiest, if possible, to secure all the make-up from the same place. I liked the concept of Bare Minerals, but I had contacted them a few years ago and learned that they didn’t run safe lines, so that was out. With only a few months left to go, I discovered a wonderful company called After Glow Cosmetics. Their products are not cheap, but they are certified gluten freeSo if any health & beauty company (HBC) tells you they can’t test for gluten, sorry, tell them about After Glow Cosmetics, because clearly they can test for it in non-foods.

With my parents helping out financially, we went with lipstick, blush, foundation for both of us, plus eye shadow, mascara, and eye liner for Teresa. Although we didn’t end up using everything, we were glad to have all the options on hand. Although I’ve only used traditional make-up in the past, the mineral make-up was very easy to use, and the colors were lovely! It was a little difficult to choose colors on-line, but we were very happy with our choices. If you need gluten-free, paraben free, fragrance free make-up, I don’t see how you could go wrong with After Glow!

 

photo by Amanda Grabler
photo by Amanda Grabler

WNY: Ellie’s Gluten Free Bakery

Ellie's Gluten Free Baker - Banner

Anytime we travel, we like to explore as many gluten free options in the general area. Yesterday, on our way to Oswego so T could show me where she earned her Bachelor of Science (Meteorology!), we stopped off just outside of Rochester, NY, in Fairport, to visit a small bakery called Ellie’s.

If you are anywhere near Ellie’s, you simply must go. They have a huge menu, but you’ll want to check in with them on Facebook to see what they have available that day. We went late in the day, since we were coming from Buffalo, NY, so we only had a few items to choose from, but they were all delicious.

This is what we tried: 

  • Chocolate cupcake with Vanilla Frosting
  • Crumb Cake Muffin
  • Snickerdoodle Cookie (photo didn’t come out)
  • Cut-out Cookie (Smiley Face)

Take a look!

Ellie's - Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla FrostingEllie's - Crumb CakeEllie's - Cut Out Cookie

 

 

This is what we thought:

 

Everything was good. The cupcake was delectable. Nice, rich chocolate without being too overpowering or too sweet. The icing was smooth and firm with a delightful creaminess; it had a nice, strong flavor, and like the cupcake, was not too sweet (something which often ruins icing). I could have eaten more of this icing!

T really enjoyed the Crumb Cake. She said it was similar to coffee cake. As you can probably see from the cupcake and muffin photos, it is lives up to its name! Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to try mine. Although we kept it sealed in the box it was placed when at time of purchase, and kept in a cool part of the car, it had dried out in less than 2-hours, and tasted slightly stale to me. However, given that T enjoyed it, I would definitely give it another go. Next time, I’d definitely take a cooler!

The cookies were both tasty. We enjoyed the Snickerdoodle equally. On first bite, I wasn’t sure, but as I ate it, more of the true Snickerdoodle flavor came out. Snickerdoodles are a cookie which are notoriously difficult to replicate. I’ve tried so many and so few are actually worth eating. Ellie’s has made a fabulous Snickerdoodle. If this is your type of cookie, you’ll want to try this one!

I liked the Cut Out cookie more than T did. I loved the texture, the subtle flavor (which on asking, I now know was Almond extract in both the cookie and the yellow frosting), the chocolate flavor in the eyes and smile of the smiley face. I loved the cheerfulness of this cookie! Between the smiley and the flavor, I think you could make anyone happy with this treat!

Ellie’s makes different products on different days, but if you follow them on Facebook, you can find out what will be available each day!

 

ElliesGBakery01