About this article
This article was originally published in the March/April 2016 issue of M: North Atlanta magazine, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.
Just what is gluten?
* Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
What is celiac disease?
* Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten.
What are some of the symptoms of celiac disease and/or those with wheat sensitivities?
* There are a variety of symptoms, including bloating, chronic fatigue, depression, diarrhea and “brain fog.”
* Only a doctor can determine if you have celiac disease. So if you suspect you or your child may, visit the doctor.
* Some studies suggest that 83 percent of Americans that have celiac disease don’t know it and go undiagnosed.
Although nearly everyone today is familiar with the term “gluten free,” it wasn’t always that way.
For Toula Argentis, owner of 2B Whole European Bakery, the journey to understanding and embracing a gluten-free lifestyle is personal and began 15 years ago.
“My son began having all sorts of medical problems,” she said. “After undergoing numerous tests, we finally discovered he had many allergies including wheat, dairy, sugar and artificial colors used in so many foods.”
Argentis began looking for gluten-free products. And, of course, that was difficult since there weren’t that many on the market. Another problem — the products themselves weren’t very good.
“He didn’t like the taste of any of them, so he lost weight,” she said. “It was a very traumatic time for both of us.”
Argentis said she began experimenting with various different types of flours other than wheat and created a variety of breads and desserts that were gluten free.
“I found it was much easier to create desserts that tasted good, but baking bread was much more difficult,” she said. “I threw out many loaves of bread before I figured out it was the gluten-free recipes that were the problem.”
Argentis then took her old family recipes and just substituted gluten-free flours and non-dairy milk and the results were fantastic.
“I really had to change the way I fed my family and it took some getting used to,” she said. “But to see my son’s health improve made it all worthwhile.”
Friends and family encouraged Argentis to pursue her gluten-free baking as a business. Although she was nervous, she took a leap of faith in 2011 and began selling her products at the Marietta farmers’ market.
The next year, she began selling her baked goods at farmers’ markets in Roswell and Cumming.
The desire and demand for gluten-free baked goods was growing and Argentis was having a hard time keeping up.
“I was working full time and trying to grow my baking business in my ‘spare’ time,” she said.
After much thought, Argentis took another leap of faith in fall 2014 and opened 2B Whole European Gluten-Free Bakery off of Main Street in Alpharetta.
Argentis is not just about providing customers with the best quality gluten-free baked goods, she also wants to educate the public about food allergies and the importance of quality ingredients.
She recently teamed up with registered dietician Lori Woodward, who works with clients who have food allergies and need help with their diets.
A 25-year veteran of the health industry, Woodward said many people are confused about what “gluten free” means.
“There is so much misinformation out there right now,” Woodward said. “We are trying to help people understand how food affects their bodies and what to look for on labels, as well as provide people as much health and wellness information as possible.”
Woodward often posts guest blog posts for Argentis on all things health related.
“Toula truly cares about the health of her customers and strives to offer them a quality product as well as information,” she said.
According to Woodward, they plan on holding health-related seminars in the near future at the bakery. “Toula is very involved in the community and is passionate about what she does.”
Quality ingredients are also of paramount importance to Argentis. The bakery relies on primarily organic ingredients and strives to use local and seasonal ones whenever possible.
Due to customer demand, Argentis said they are transitioning from a bakery to a café and bakery.
The business offers a variety of items ranging from artisan breads and pizza dough to turkey/avocado sandwiches and calzones.
Also available are Greek spinach and chicken pot pies, as well as lemon bars, cinnamon raisin Paleo bread, cookies, cupcakes and cakes.
“We are beginning a phase 2 buildout of our current facility and will have increased seating space indoors and will offer breakfast and lunch options,” she said.