Allergy-friendly baking mix business expands into retail sales
A Sioux Falls woman has turned her passion for health and baking into purpose creating allergy-friendly mixes.
Owners Jennifer and Dan Johnson created Gluten Free Please, LLC in 2021 and recently began selling their mixes in Sioux Falls.
“I’ve had digestive problems my whole life but didn’t realize it until after my second son was born 17 years ago,” Jennifer said. “That’s when my physician suggested I go gluten free.”
Twelve years later, a diagnosis of lymphocytic colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) recommended Johnson limit certain sugars that aren’t absorbed properly in the gut with a ‘low FODMAP’ diet.
A banker by trade, Johnson often found herself at work-related functions asking for meals to be served gluten free.
“That’s how our name ‘Gluten Free, Please’ got its name because it felt like I was saying that all day,” she explained.
And with a long family history of baking, Johnson wasn’t going to let her intolerance to certain ingredients stop her from doing what she loved in the kitchen.
She spent years perfecting her baking mixes to become more allergy friendly and something her family could enjoy together.
“I developed a base mix I use in most of my recipes and when I use that, it avoids the top eight major food allergens: milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy and yeast.”
In doing so, friends and family including those without allergies started inquiring about her recipes or requesting mixes for baking at home.
“I haven’t had a normal cake in years but most people tell me they wouldn’t know it’s lacking the more common ingredients you find in a store-bought mix,” she said.
“Hearing that was important because as a family, I want to make sure it tastes just as good as anything else out there.”
Things really turned the corner in December 2021 when Johnson completed the South Dakota Biotech Fast Launch program for entrepreneurs.
“I knew I wanted to do something with the mixes but it finally hit me when I realized I could sell them,” Johnson explained.
Each mix offers organic, vegan ingredients, generous portion sizes and are versatile depending on the consumer’s dietary needs.
Johnson rented space owned by April Smith of Heart of the City Bakery in Parker, South Dakota, to make the mixes out of their certified gluten-free and peanut-free commercial kitchen which is a state requirement for business owners offering allergen friendly products.
Most recently, Johnson and her husband teamed up with Chef Ellen who now carries the product at her retail kitchen in Sioux Falls.
“Giving people something to help control their diet or allergies is a wonderful thing,” Johnson said.