You Are Where You EatMar 01, 2019 12:34AM ● By Suzie Agrillo
We’re not just what we eat, but also where we eat, and the Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro is the go-to destination for gluten-free dining in Tucson. Whether seeking an early morning breakfast, weekend brunch or a delicious lunch, Gourmet Girls, owned by the dynamic duo of Susan Fulton and Mary Steiger, has something for everyone.
Everything we crave is handcrafted with the freshest ingredients, and they cater to people with food allergies other than gluten. “Even if a guest doesn’t see anything on the menu they think they can eat, we’re really accommodating,” Fulton emphasizes. “Anyone with food allergies who feels overwhelmed and wants to come in can get friendly advice here. Our staff is very knowledgeable and sensitive to the dietary needs of our guests.”
Gourmet Girls has consistently been recognized as the best gluten-free restaurant in Tucson, and has won numerous awards for its food. Most recently, they won the judges’ choice prize for best dessert at the Cookies & Cocktails Girl Scout fundraiser. Their cupcakes are also a very popular item, especially the Carrot, Chocolate Decadence and Loving Lemon cupcakes.
The restaurant participates in a cooking television spot every Friday, either on KVOA or KOLD. This summer, they will be featured in a televised “Create a Cupcake” contest, where the television viewers and guests at the restaurant can submit flavor combinations for the cupcake, filling, frosting and garnish. Gourmet Girls will bake the finalist cupcakes and the contestant who submits the winning flavor combination, selected by a panel of celebrity judges, will receive a dozen cupcakes and recognition on the TV show.
For breakfast at Gourmet Girls, one can start with a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary, then indulge in one of their most popular entrees, such as blueberry pancakes, spiced pumpkin bacon waffles or eggs benedict. The bistro even serves the quintessential dish of chicken fried steak and eggs. For lunch, sample one of their seasonal sandwiches or salads. Try the signature Sonoran Sandwich on flatbread with turkey, bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce, rosemary mayo and pesto. Afterward, sweeten any mood with a chocolate cupcake or a frosted caramel cinnamon roll.
The girls are continually creating new products, though the conversion from gluten-full recipes to their gluten-free counterparts can be a challenge. “To start with, we take recipes containing wheat flour and substitute one of our in-house created gluten-free flour blends. Usually, further tweaking is required, perhaps adding more liquid or adjusting the fat ratios. It’s a delicate process, since we never want to just add more sugar or fat,” explains Fulton. “And we still have our share of failures, so home bakers shouldn’t feel discouraged when they have a disappointing result.”
One area in which their experimentation has resulted in great success is with wedding cakes. “We make a lot of gluten-free wedding cakes, and not to brag, but we hear all the time that ‘it was the best wedding cake I’ve ever had,’” says Fulton.
Eating gluten-free involves assiduously avoiding wheat, rye, barley and spelt. “It requires mindful eating and cautious reading of every label. Gluten can be in surprising things. There might even be gluten in a can of enchilada sauce,” comments Fulton. “Mindful eating can be a good thing for everyone, whether following a gluten-free diet or not.”
Many people who are gluten-free also need to avoid dairy products. “Almost all of our breads are dairy-free, and we always have three to four dairy-free gourmet cupcakes and cookies, as well as special order items,” Fulton notes. Plus, the girls have expanded their line of vegan products and added keto-friendly options, thanks to the creative touch of baker Tachena Winterhalter, who delights in experimenting with both varieties of products.
For those traveling and eating gluten-free, Fulton recommends utilizing the app “Find Me Gluten Free”. Lesa Jensen, a longtime bakery/bistro guest turned employee, also recommends The G-Free Diet by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a book about living life without gluten and loving it.
Eating gluten-free is becoming a more widespread dietary change, perhaps because there is more awareness about the dangers of gluten. “Gluten has been implicated as a root cause of inflammation, which we all want to avoid. You can look at starting a gluten-free lifestyle as a journey toward optimizing your health,” says Fulton. Gluten-free or not, the girls encourage all to visit the bakery/bistro because as they like to say, “You don’t have to be gluten-free to love Gourmet Girls.”
Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro is located at 5845 N. Oracle Rd, Tucson. Connect at 520-408-9000 or GourmetGirlsGlutenFree.com. See ad, page 25.
Suzie Agrillo is a freelance writer in Tucson and a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Magazine. She focuses on writing about the arts, inspirational people and the human connection.
Gourmet Girls Chilled Carrot Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb organic carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp yellow curry powder (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup full-fat organic coconut milk
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium/high heat. Add in the onions and ginger, sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the onions are beginning to get translucent and both the onions and ginger are fragrant.
Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Then pour in the broth, carrots, salt, curry powder and red pepper flakes.
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 25-30 minutes, until carrots are nicely tender. Remove the pan from the heat (or just turn off) and allow the soup to cool, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes.
Purée with an immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender or food processor, until smooth.
Return the puree to pot over a low heat. Pour in the coconut milk, stirring well to combine.
Once combined, remove it from the heat and serve hot, or store it in the refrigerator and serve chilled. Top each bowl with some thinly sliced green onions.