You've sampled them, you've asked for them, you've patiently waited for them... now they're finally here. Classic focaccia is an Italian flatbread that's brushed with oil and topped with various herbs and seasonings. Ener-G Focaccia Crust is the gluten-free version of the traditional bread only it's free of gluten, wheat, casein, dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts. In addition to being free of the top food allergens, it is also plain, meaning you get the freedom to top it with your own favorite herbs and seasons without restrictions.
Who says Restrictive Diets are Boring!
When Sam M. Wylde purchased Ener-G Foods, Inc. in 1962, they were little more than a two-person operation in which all packing was done by hand. Shortly after acquiring Ener-G Foods, Sam was approached by Dr. Scribner of the University of Washington. Dr. Scribner, known worldwide as the father of dialysis, is credited with inventing what is commonly called the kidney machine.
Meeting with Dr. Scribner and his dietitian, Sondra Aker, it was explained that there was an acute shortage of dialysis machines and they desperately needed a low protein bread. The University of Washington had one dialysis machine for thousands of kidney patients. Since the kidneys convert protein to uric acid, if the protein intake were restricted, the kidneys would not have to work so hard, hence would require less frequent dialysis.
Sam M. Wylde and Ener-G Foods worked on low protein bread for about a year before arriving at an acceptable result. Made with a base of wheat starch it was low in protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus, therefore acceptable for a low protein diet. It was also discovered that by restricting protein intake, progression of renal failure could be slowed even for patients on the dialysis unit. Low-Protein foods developed by Ener-G Foods also address several other dietary disorders.
Sometime later, Dr. Cyrus Rubin, inventor of the Rubin Biopsy Tube and professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Washington sent his dietitian, Elaine Hartsook (later to become Elaine Hartsook, Ph.D) to Ener-G with a request for a gluten-free bread with one restriction, 'I don't want any wheat starch'. Also at about the same time Sam M. Wylde developed prostate cancer and Sam Wylde III, his son, having completed his MBA in Oregon moved back to Seattle to assist his father. Sam Wylde III began working nights on developing gluten-free Breads and other products without the use of wheat starch.
What is gluten?
Gluten is one of the miracles of nature. It has the property of becoming elastic when kneaded or mixed. It is this elasticity that traps the gas given off when yeast ferments or baking powders react that makes breads and cakes rise. In the USA, historically a gluten-free diet means a diet free of wheat, rye and barley. However, no specific USA legislation defining Gluten-Free exists. In Canada a gluten-free diet is defined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a diet free of wheat, rye, oats and barley. Foods sold in Canada are not allowed any detectable gluten. In Europe a gluten-free diet generally means a diet which complies with the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Standard for Gluten-Free Foods. The Codex Alimentarius Standard allows wheat starch in Gluten-Free Foods, provided the gluten in such foods does not exceed CODEX guidelines. Such guidelines are periodically adjusted to comply with new scientific findings. Legislation passed in The USA in 2004 requires the US Food and Drug Administration to define gluten-free and to make regulations enforcing the new gluten-free standard.
In every cereal chemist's laboratory, there is a device fitted to a small mixer that measures the resistance of the dough to the mixer. As the dough containing gluten is mixed, this resistance increases until it reaches its' maximum resistance. This 'maximum' is determined by various factors including quality of the gluten and speed of the mixer.
Why eliminate gluten from the diet?
An amazing discovery was made in Holland during World War II. People who had been ill their entire lives suddenly became well. This intrigued Dr. Willem Dicke, a Dutch pediatrician, who began researching the chain of events. The studies determined that the one drastic change in their diet was the elimination of wheat, rye, oats and barley, all of which had been seized for use by the German armies. The Dutch population was living on bread made with flour ground from tulip bulbs. Further research indicated that the gluten in these grains slowly destroyed the villi, which line the walls of the small intestine. Once the villi were sufficiently damaged, the patient suffered from malabsorption, unable to obtain any nutrients from the foods that were ingested. It was found that by eliminating gluten from the diet, the villi would regenerate themselves and the patient would begin digesting their foods properly. The disease is called celiac sprue or non-tropical sprue. Once thought to be a hereditary disease afflicting persons of Northern European and Judaic descent, celiac disease is now known to affect many other ethnic groups including Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern peoples. Once estimated to affects one in 2000 in the United States, it is now thought to be much more common. Once celiac sprue disease is confirmed, the only treatment is maintenance of a gluten-free diet for life.
The common response is, 'I just won't eat bread.' Easy enough, however, gluten is found in most of the products consumed everyday. Essentially, everything with wheat, rye, barley, and all their derivatives must be eliminated. So breads, pastas, cakes, pastries, cereal, cookies, donuts, pizza, etc, etc...Difficult at first, adaption is possible but, you must also consider this: many commercially prepared foods available on the grocery shelves contain obvious glutens (wheat, barley, rye, etc.) and then there are foods with 'hidden' glutens like HVP. What is HVP? Short for hydrolyzed vegetable protein, its source can be cornstarch, or more commonly wheat starch. Now all of a sudden, it seems everything is taboo for your new diet. Panic sets in; it seems there is nothing you left to eat except fruits and vegetables. The initial shock of this new dietary lifestyle can get overwhelming, but with time, patience, acceptance, and knowledge it becomes much easier.
A common complaint that heard over the years from the many physicians is, 'My patients won't stay on the gluten-free diet, they can't find anything they like to eat'.
By 1978, Ener-G Foods had successfully developed and marketed one gluten-free bread and one low protein bread that were acceptable substitutes for the 'real thing'. We also mixed and packaged a number of baking mixes for a variety of diets. Since this gluten-free bread eliminated wheat, rye, oats and barley, persons afflicted with allergies to any of those grains could utilize these breads in their diets. Unwittingly, they had joined the allergy foods market, which would generate considerable interest throughout the eighties, nineties and now into the 21st century.
The 1980's saw burgeoning American interest in health, diet and exercise. The public and the medical community determined that diet played a significant role in a person's health and well being and that some ailments were in fact allergies to foods. With that in mind, Ener-G set about developing various products suitable for allergy-restricted diets. Today they have a wide array of products designed to meet the needs of those individuals who must eliminate certain foods from their diets. Included in those products are several milk substitutes for those allergic to milk protein or milk lactose, many products suitable for the elimination of wheat from the diet and their best seller, an egg substitute suitable for cooking and baking which contains no part of the egg in its composition.
Ener- G produces over 150 products made in a facility that is dedicated gluten-free, wheat-free, casein-free, dairy-free, treenut-free, and peanut-free products. Of these items, many are also egg-free, soy-free, low in protein and low in sodium. Ener-G is also kosher certified. Since beginning in the 1960s, they've devoted much time and commitment to customers. What they do is unique, revolutionary, and always evolving.