It took 12 years for Lucille McInnes to figure out what was ailing her. They were 12 years of intermittent sickness, multiple misdiagnoses, confusion and visits to specialists.
In the end, it was her mother-in-law who noticed a connection to gluten.
“I was resisting that thought,” said McInnes with a laugh. “But I eliminated it and then when I tried to reintroduce gluten, my reaction was drastic. My first meal back was a homemade chicken soup with egg noodles. Within 15 minutes, I had a heat rush from my stomach to my head. I thought my head was going to explode. I thought, ‘This is crazy. I can’t have a food allergy.’ ”
Celiac disease, which was the eventual diagnosis for McInnes, is not a food allergy, but rather an autoimmune disease. McInnes found it can be upsetting and socially exclusive.
“I eventually had to cut dairy out as well. And when you cut out a second thing, you realize how heavily the food industry relies on those other allergens to be able to accommodate for eliminating that first one.”
For McInnes, a food lover who had grown up watching her mom bake from scratch, frustration mounted. The frustration turned to ingenuity and the need to fill the hole Saskatoon had for a food establishment solely dedicated to nutritious, delicious food for those with restrictive diets.
“It blew my mind. I couldn’t eat out anywhere. The odd place that was making some gluten-free vegan stuff was not a clean environment and I was getting sick anyway,” said McInnes. “As well-intentioned as so many people are when they offer gluten-free options, for those of us who have to be 100 per cent free of it, it’s like playing Russian roulette. So I decided I’m up for this challenge.”
A human resources professional by day, McInnes is also supervising the staff at Inside Out Bakery. Located on Avenue C North, the bakery produces gluten-free, allergen-free products. This means no dairy, no peanuts, no corn, no yeast, no refined sugar and no MSG. Options on the menu range from chocolate chip cookies, cacao black bean brownies and black cherry cupcakes to lunch items such as garden veggie pasta salad and chicken vegetable stew. Other hand-crafted recipes include homemade bread and a creation McInnes likes to refer to as a “baguffin.”
“It’s a bagel on one side, a muffin on the other. What I love about it, instead of having to cut the bagel in half to spread your filling, you just flip it and put the spread in the hole, and the bottom is solid,” said McInnes. “It’s so great, gluten-free and tasty.”
With the modern focus on healthful living, gluten-free diets and fads, McInnes says it can be hard to distinguish between trendy and authentic allergen-free environments. Another issue Inside Out Bakery will tackle is the mindset that gluten-free equals less tasty.
“I am tackling the nutritional aspect. I am tackling the taste and texture aspect. We have made huge progress. We’ve expanded. We have muffins that, in my opinion, are better than gluten muffins,” said McInnes. “My 16-year-old daughter just recently tasted one of our cupcake muffins, and she said, ‘Mom, I want this every day for breakfast.’ ”
In the end, it comes down to an inclusive, welcoming menu that caters to all. Inside Out Bakery is in its second phase of expansion after a soft opening in late August 2014. The next steps are getting the word out, getting people aware and buying on a regular basis. Catering will be a large part of that, as well as events such as a Valentine’s Day buffet brunch coming up in February.
“The core thing is that it’s food that’s nutritional and delicious. It’s not just for a fad, it’s not just for those people that need that restrictive menu,” said McInnes. “We put together a spread that everyone can share together. Our core goal is inclusivity. We know it’s challenging and we’re here to help. We’re here as a support to say, ‘Don’t exclude people just because it’s difficult to do. We’re here now.’ ”
To learn more about Inside Out Bakery, visit its website at insideoutbakery.com or its Facebook page at Inside Out Bakery. You can also visit in person at 102-2301 Ave. C North. The regular hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.