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Naturally Free Food

9 Singer Lane Smithtown, NY 631-656-5440

Christine Mitchell owns Naturally Free Food, a shop

(Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus)

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Type: Food, Specialty, Gluten free, Health food Special features: Food Description:

Before she opened Naturally Free Food in May 2011, Christine Mitchell was spending far too much time shopping for gluten-free foods. Five years ago, she learned she was gluten-intolerant and that one of her two daughters had a full-blown case of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that renders the sufferer unable to digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

"I would go to one store for the frozen bread, another one for the muffins and pizza dough, and another one for the gluten-free prepared meals," she recalled.

Mitchell had always had an entrepreneurial streak -- she'd done sales for a payroll service company and, with her mother, sold hand-painted crafts at fairs -- and, gradually, "this little idea that wouldn't go away" inspired her to open Naturally Free Food, which she described as "that one-stop gluten-free store that also does baking and cooking."

The shop is housed in a little wood structure that was built in 1802 as Smithtown's very first schoolhouse. (Walt Whitman taught here during the 1837-38 school year.) Mitchell stocks hundreds of grocery items, from cereals, snack foods and cookies to wheat-free pasta and breads. Many products also are geared to those with sensitivity to dairy, nuts, eggs and soy.

Naturally Free Food is also a great resource for baking ingredients such as Jules Gluten Free flour (5-pound sack, $24) a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Mitchell uses Jules as well as her own custom blends to produce a range of gluten-free cakes, muffins and pies, as well as savory soups. One standout is her crumb-cake cupcakes ($3), which have a better texture and balance of flavor than most gluten-full specimens.

Christine Mitchell owns Naturally Free Food, a shop selling gluten-free groceries, in Smithtown.