It shouldn’t be a struggle to find high-quality, gluten-free or vegan food. Keeping your body healthy and safe shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing delicious desserts that soothe the soul. That’s where Raised Gluten Free comes in. This women-owned business brings to market the ultimate comfort food for those with food allergies: Sweet and savory pies! Made in small batches at a dedicated, certified gluten-free bakery in Northern California, the plant-based offerings are not just gluten free, not just vegan, they’re both and more. The artisan products deliver indulgence that’s also free of dairy, eggs, and peanuts, Kosher Pareve, and Non-GMO Project Verified.
Raised Gluten Free was founded in 2011 by Rosa Dixon and Milia Lando, two childhood best friends who became passionate about providing delicious treats for families with food restrictions. The inspiration for starting the company was personal. Rosa’s daughter, Solea, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at 18 months old. Shortly after being born, she became very sick and was unable to keep food down or absorb nutrients. Rosa and her family desperately went to numerous doctors and hospitals, but no one had the answer. After an agonizing year, a physician suggested that she may have Celiac Disease, and the tests came back positive. Gluten was taken out of Solea's diet, and within six months, she went from being in the 1st percentile of height and weight to the 85th. Now she’s in the 95th percentile and thriving!
Rosa + Milia
Rosa + Solea
Simultaneously, Milia found out she was allergic to gluten, eggs, corn, and dairy. Serious health and skin problems were stemming from these food intolerances, and well into her adulthood, she learned that so many of the foods she was accustomed to eating needed to be removed from her diet. Rosa, who was raised vegan, also struggled with a severe tree-nut allergy her whole life. Finding delicious, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and egg-free products was a struggle to say the least.
These two friends grew up together as teenagers in Tennessee and followed each other across three states, sharing in ups and downs, joys and heartaches. Rosa had always dreamed of having her own business, and back in high school used to bake and sell vegan pies to friends. When the two got older, they started a tradition of cooking parties and found that creating and sharing food together kept them close. So, when Solea was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Milia naturally thought, “Let’s start a mama’s gluten free bakery.” And so it began.
Rosa worked as a chef her whole adult life, and at the time, was running a dessert catering company called Natural Decadence. The two leveraged this existing business to get started and used Rosa’s commercial kitchen, a small space at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, to make pies one day a week for local Farmer’s Markets. Within the first year, they were approached by a food forager with Whole Foods Markets. Rosa likes to describe him as their prince that rode up on a white horse looking for vegan and gluten-free desserts to bring to market. Rosa and Milia quickly negotiated a distribution deal with Whole Foods’ Northern California region and then hopped in a minivan to sell their pies into more stores. With lots of pies and even more dry ice, they visited 32 out of 38 stores in three days. The pair learned a lesson about needing ventilation when driving with dry ice on that journey, but more importantly, they kickstarted the brand’s retail availability.
Today, Raised Gluten Free’s apple pie and berry peach pie are sold at nearly all Whole Foods Market locations, plus natural food stores across the country. Their seasonal pumpkin pie and cranberry apple pie warm hearts during the fall and winter season and their Southern peach pie and blueberry bliss pie delight tastebuds during spring and summer. By 2017, the pie lineup could be found in the bakery, refrigerated and frozen dessert sections at grocers from the west to the east, and in 2019, the women introduced a savory quiche and pot pie at Kroger locations nationwide.
In an expanded commercial kitchen, which now spans the space of three event halls, a team that feels like family currently produces 2,000 pies a day. Using carefully selected ingredients and a simple pie press, skilled bakers make the dough, shape the crusts, and hand-mix fruit fillings. The walls are painted a cheery bakery yellow and all of the equipment is named (the big mixer is Bertha and the ovens are Gloria due to them being glorious…), because that’s how these ladies roll. Milia handles the bakery operations and bringing recipes to scale, while Rosa is at the helm of marketing, sales and product innovation. The business is growing and so is their friendship. Family dinner dates continue to be a mainstay in their lives and the kids love each other, but a new and unexpected layer has been added to the tirelessly strong bond between these two women. Rosa and Milia now share pride in that something they started together is bringing absolutely delicious, high-quality, and allergy-friendly desserts to families across the country. Raised Gluten Free is breaking the boundaries of what living with dietary restrictions can and should taste like, and we’re all the better for it.