Food Finds - American Gra-Frutti

Gluten allergies are an increasingly prevalent problem facing Americans. The culinary world is finally catching on as restaurants – such as Shaun's in Inman Park – now cater to the gluten intolerant, and many bakers are making gluten-free goodies.

Marietta-based American Gra-Frutti is one such artisan with a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. Owner Marilyn Santulli is passionate about re-creating delicious, decadent treats to satisfy people with dietary limitations. Her most popular product, the dense and chewy coconut drops, are a mix of finely shredded organic unsweetened coconut, roasted carob, organic brown rice syrup, organic raw agave, virgin organic coconut oil, organic almonds and organic flavorings. No chocolate, caffeine, refined sugars, dairy, preservatives or artificial sweeteners are used in production. Since the treats are sweetened with raw agave nectar, they've been certified by the Glycemic Research Institute as "low glycemic" and "diabetic friendly." The drops come in many flavors such as espresso, hazelnut, lemon angels, and peppermint creme. Santulli's favorite? The peanut butter drops, which are like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but without the waxy exterior or trans fats. Since the coconut drops are made with coconut oil, which softens at room temperature, they are best kept chilled.

American Gra-Frutti also makes a handful of gluten-free and vegan cakes. The Berry Wonderful is made with gluten-free flours, pecans, cranberries, blueberries, tart cherries, raw agave nectar, natural oil blends, vegan beet sugar, soy protein and organic spices.

The coconut drops and cakes have been such a hit that Whole Foods now sells them in all of its Georgia stores with plans to carry them regionally. In addition, American Gra-Frutti has landed a presence in the most unlikely of places – a new gluten-free concession stand at Turner Field, where you can buy some of the moist and too-good-to-be-good-for-you cupcakes.

American Gra-Frutti is available at Return to Eden, Whole Foods, Life Grocery and Cafe, and on its website, www.agrafrutti.com.

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