Keeping it sweet for people with food allergies

By: Robin Ruehlen | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 1, 2013

 Just Peachy! Store manager Lisa Shapiro tops her personal favorite, mango sorbet with strawberries and kiwi, with hot fudge.

Just Peachy! Store manager Lisa Shapiro tops her personal favorite, mango sorbet with strawberries and kiwi, with hot fudge.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Summer is a time for treats — but for those with food allergies, finding palatable alternatives to classics like ice cream, frozen yogurt and cake can be a challenge.

But some local businesses have put sweets back on the table for people with food allergies and sensitivities.

In addition to self-serve frozen yogurts and custards, including customer favorites such as cake batter and salted caramel corn, Just Peachy! Frozen Yogurt & Custard owner Steve Morris said he is proud to offer a dedicated allergy-free yogurt machine.

“We want all customers to have a variety of options and not worry if you have allergies,” Morris said, noting that his staff is happy to provide toppings directly from the box that have not had any cross-exposure. 

Several flavors of yogurt are made without dyes or artificial colors, and both the custard and yogurt are Kosher and gluten-free. The shop offers 35 toppings each day, such as fresh fruit supplied daily from Hiller’s Market, mochi (sweet rice) candy bars, pop rocks, cookie dough, gummy bears, granola, Oreos, shredded coconut and more. 

All of these have kept the Orchard Lake Road self-serve yogurt shop going strong throughout its first year of business — so strong, in fact, that Morris is planning to open a second location inside Hiller’s Market in Commerce Township this fall.

“The first year has been fun. It’s been a learning experience,” said Morris of Just Peachy!, which opened in June 2012.

“Part of doing business is to anticipate trends, and we’ve worked hard to make our store unique among other operators in metro Detroit. People love the many options we carry — low-fat, nonfat custard, lactose-free, sugar-free and sorbet.”

At Sweet Dreams Pastry & Ice Cream, owner Samir Daher said he began offering gluten- and dairy-free cakes last August, after a friend approached him and requested that Daher make a cake for his daughter, who is allergic to dairy.

“He is very cautious about what she eats, and he didn’t trust any other bakery because she gets very sick,” Daher recalled.

“I brought him in, showed him all the ingredients I was using, and she was delighted with the cake. I ended up baking one for her bat mitzvah, as well, and we’ve been offering dairy-free and gluten-free options ever since.”

Daher said the specialty cakes are made fresh to order, and added that the gluten-free chocolate cake has become a favorite with non-allergic customers, as well.

“It’s very good — really moist, and almost with a brownie texture, with real chocolate,” he said.

Sweet Dreams offers gluten-free fillings in chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse, raspberry, strawberry and lemon. For nondairy fillings and toppings, customers can choose fresh berries or preserves.

“The response has been tremendous. People are delighted with it, and the cakes taste very good,” Daher said.

“A lot of times, they’ll go to a bakery and request dairy-free, and they’ll be made to feel like they’re asking for something that doesn’t exist.  We take this very seriously because there are a lot of people who have health issues.  We’re making it so people don’t have to miss out, and the outcome of our experiment was perfect.”

Just Peachy! Frozen Yogurt & Custard is located at 4312 Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. For more information, call (248) 481-3522.

Sweet Dreams Pastry & Ice Cream is located at 4153 Orchard Lake Road in Orchard Lake. For more information, call (248) 737-8900 or visit www.sweetdreamsweb.com.

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