Mommy of two, lawyer, Celiac, Founder of 123 Gluten Free and creator of delicious G-Free baked goods (including our favorite Gluten Free Cookie Mix!) – it’s possible that Kimberlee Ullner is a superhero – or at least she doesn’t sleep much. I got her to slow down long enough to answer a few questions and give her best tip for Gluten Free Baking – Read on:
How did 123 Gluten Free get started? I come from a celiac family. My older sister was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was just three years old and I grew up helping with my sister’s struggle handling the challenges of keeping a gluten free diet. 1-2-3 Gluten Free was started in 2004, out of the need to have top-quality, great tasting, quick and easy mixes for my busy family to prepare. Many of the mixes are named for children in the family who are proud to see their names on store shelves. 1-2-3 Gluten Free is truly a family affair –all members of the family, from the youngest to the oldest, are still involved in the business. The kids and their friends (celiac and non-celiac) are still the first taste-testers before products are released.
Shortly after my niece had been diagnosed with celiac disease, she asked my sister to make “pigs-in-a-blanket” for her birthday. My sister called and asked for help so I got busy and created the biscuit mix. My niece and the other family members were ecstatic. Now all the kids make pigs-in-a-blanket for family gatherings. Our biscuit mix, our signature product, is still our number one selling product.
Are all your products Gluten & Dairy Free? How about Nuts & Eggs? Yes, all of our products are free of gluten, dairy, nuts and eggs – in fact, they are produced in a dedicated gluten-free and allergen-free facility so there is no chance for contamination. Though some of our products ask consumers to add dairy or eggs, there is always a dairy-free and egg-free recipe available inside the box and on the website. Additionally, our products are certified gluten free by the GFCO.
Are there any products you’re particularly excited about right now? In the last couple of years, we’ve released three products that are sugar free. You add your own sweetener so you can reduce sugar or use an alternative. We are about to release a couple more products that are also sugar free. I can’t say more than that right now but we’ve got some exciting things in the works.
After a long day, what’s your favorite easy meal? Pancakes. I love pumpkin pancakes with pure maple syrup and pecans or pancakes with fresh berries. They’re quick and easy and fill me up. I often make them on the weekends and freeze them so if I really don’t have time, I just pop one or two in the microwave and in less than 2 minutes, dinner is served.
Got a food or beverage you can’t live without? I love great corn bread stuffing and juicy turkey. My answer could be influenced by the time of the year (it’s close to the holidays). This is a tough question. It could also be cream cheese marble brownies – combining cheesecake and deep, dark, rich chocolatey brownies – just the thought makes my mouth water. By the way, we do have fabulous recipes for both of these on our website, www.123glutenfree.com.
What tips & tricks do you have for Gluten Free bakers? Keep out the grit. The smoother the starting ingredients, the less gritty your finished product will be. That’s why all of our products are made with superfine flours and sugars. If you are baking with sugar, use Baker’s Sugar. It’s a bit more expensive so if you can’t find it or are trying to save a little money (aren’t we all), the put your sugar in the food processor for 10 seconds. You will notice a difference in your baked goods.
You were a lawyer before you started 123 Gluten Free – got any legal advice for me? It’s not necessarily legal advice, but do what you love doing. And, just because you (or someone you love) has dietary restrictions, it doesn’t mean you can’t love the world of food – experiment with different recipes and ingredients and try new things. You never know what you’ll find that you love.
If we opened your refrigerator, what would we find? Unsalted butter, eggs, buttermilk – I do a lot of baking so these are staples in my house. Yogurt, fresh fruit, skim milk and orange juice are also staples in my house. I have 2 young kids so you can imagine we go through a lot of all of these.
Pick one: Chocolate, Lemon or Pumpkin? That’s an impossible choice. I love them all — but not together. What woman doesn’t love chocolate? Rich chocolate cake with buttercream icing is always on my request list for my own birthday celebration. Lemon is an amazing flavor enhancer for fruit and can work wonders with many recipes. In fact, just a hint of lemon, can add spark to a lot of different baked goods. Pumpkin is just great – it’s a really healthy fruit and can be used in so many recipes (including as an egg replacer). A great way to sneak vitamins and minerals into your kids’ (and your) diets too!
If you could be granted one food wish, what would it be? To take out the calories from all of my favorite desserts, of course.