Gluten-Free in Gaston

Wine country grocer a community treasure for all tastes

By Hilary Berg

If you’ve visited The Gaston Market, aka Ralph’s “Pretty Good” Grocery, it’s likely you’ve met the owners, Jeff and Elena Rasmussen — they took over the store, located on Highway 47, from Jeff’s parents, Ralph and Pat, who started the business in 1962. Over the years, the energetic couple, alongside their five children, has infused the community store with gourmet, import, artisan and organic items, not to mention allergy-friendly and gluten-free. The concentration of the latter stems from Elena’s own food sensitivities, but the items she curates come from her excellent taste and a need for hard-to-find essentials. In addition, the in-house butcher (Jeff), the deli (you must try the chicken salad sandwich), the take-and-bake pizzas, the donuts (Pat still bakes six days a week), the cheese selection, the chocolates and the hyper-local wine collection (Elena refused to choose her favorite for this article) are only a handful of reasons to stop by, shop and then tell your friends.

1. Lillie Belle Farms Ramblin Rose Dark Chocolate

Central Point’s favorite chocolatier pays homage to the Grateful Dead with this gluten-free, vegan bean-to-bar delight containing 70% Madagascar organic cacao. Jeff Shepherd combines two roasts to reveal the character of intense, fruity beans. lilliebellefarms.com

2. Sisters Fruit Company Blackberry Apple Chips

Based in Cornelius, founder Mark Smith dries thinly sliced Northwest apples with his exclusive all-natural process and sprinkles them with pure blackberries for a truly crispy, healthy treat. Other varieties available. sistersfruitco.com

3. Munk Pack Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie

Powered with 18 grams of plant protein, these soft-baked gluten-free cookies are a lip-smacking source of feel-good, balanced nutrition perfect to pack for a busy weekend in wine country. The Connecticut brand offers five varieties. munkpack.com

4. Jilz Original Crackerz

Made with five nuts and seeds, these gluten-free crackers offer a distinct taste and texture that will make them hard to stop eating. The Bay Area “crackery” is not shy about its ingredients, listing each in large type on the box, along with other seals of clean-eating approval. jilzglutenfree.com

5. Plant Snacks Beet with Vegan Goat Cheese Cassava Root Chips

The certified gluten-free chips (also non-GMO and vegan) taste salty and perfectly tart with satisfying crunch. Other flavors available from the plant-based Massachusetts company. plantsnacks.com




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