Gluten Free Dee on CBS 4 – Breakfast with Brooke

Here is an awesome article and news special featuring one of friends and gluten free mentors, Dee Valdez. Congratulations Dee, and what great publicity for one of my favorite GF companies…Udi’s!!!

And here’s the link to the TV segment!   

Udi’s Bread Breakthrough Boosts Company Sales

Written by Brooke Wagner

Brooke Wagner


Breakfast With Brooke is a weekly interview series with CBS4 Morning News anchor Brooke Wagner that airs on Friday mornings on CBS4. Read about or watch more reports in the Breakfast With Brooke section.

For 17 years, Dee Valdez had to avoid some of her favorite foods, from sandwiches to muffins to pizza. Eating became a painful hassle, rather than pleasant time spent with family and friends.

At the time her doctor diagnosed her with Celiac Disease, she was working full time, caring for three small children and attending graduate school.

“I was extraordinarily ill. Everything was fermenting in my body and I was severely malnourished,” Valdez said.

In order to get better, Valdez had to eliminate any trace of wheat, barley, oats and rye from her diet. All of those foods contain the protein gluten. An estimated 3 million Americans have a gluten intolerance or full-blown Celiac Disease, a digestive auto-immune disorder that makes sufferers very sick.

“I couldn’t have sandwiches, I couldn’t have blueberry muffins. All day long, my day was filled with things I couldn’t have, I couldn’t be a spontaneous eater,” Valdez said. “When you can’t eat, it’s very hard, when you can’t break bread with your friends, it’s very difficult, there’s a lot of emotion tied up in food.”

Valdez searched store shelves for gluten-free products. She also tried baking her own bread and muffins, but nothing she could buy or bake tasted like the real thing to her. Then, earlier this year, all of that changed.

Chad White, head baker and food scientist for Udi’s natural food company in Denver, came up with a way to make gluten-free baked goods with dough, instead of the traditional batter.

“Once you have dough, you have soft, airy breads,” said Eric Clayman, an Udi’s partner in sales and marketing. “Imagine things like waffles, pancakes … they’re denser, they’re drier, they crumble, they don’t hold together. Our products have the exact same nature as a traditional artisan bread.”

That texture completely changed Dee Valdez’ lifestyle. She says she’ll never forget eating her first sandwich in 17 years.

“It was a moment I will always remember. It may sound silly, but people eat on the fly all the time, but if you have a gluten intolerance, you can’t … until now,” said Valdez. “It looks like bread. It tastes like bread, it functions like bread.”

The discovery has been a boon for Udi’s, already savoring sweet granola sales in 50 states and on Frontier Airlines flights. The company knew immediately Udi’s was on to something. Awareness of gluten intolerance is growing as more people are diagnosed.

This year, Celiac sufferers scored a victory when Coors Field began carrying gluten-free products made by another specialty foods company.

“We were not prepared for the emotional reaction and for the demand this category has right now. This year, especially, with the economy being what it is, our company has seen incredible growth. We have experienced over 50 percent growth in just 2009,” said Clayman.

Part of the emotional response Clayman referenced came from parents eagerly ordering the bread for school lunches.

“They said things like ‘I want to send them to school with a sandwich, so they can eat lunch just like their friends and until there was Udi’s bread, I couldn’t send my kid to school with a sandwich. It means so much for my child to fit in,'” Clayman said.

Valdez agrees that the gluten-free movement is about more than food.

“It’s really, really changing people’s lives,” she said.

(© MMIX CBS Television Stations, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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