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Gluten-free grocery

You wouldn't think that a place named the Sugar Stop (630-3300) would actually be selling just the opposite, but that's what owner Robbie Vallejos is doing at 405 N. Union Blvd., Suite A. This two-week-old special diet pantry, catering specifically to celiacs and diabetics, features a variety of snacks, candies, drinks and dry goods such as baking products. Also look for unique items including Japanese shirataki noodles, made from konjac roots and containing lots of fiber with scant carbohydrates. Soon, the outfit will also offer low-carb and gluten-free breads.

Vallejos says his mother and brother are diabetic and his sister is borderline, so he became familiar with many alternative products and got the idea to open a business catering to the demographic. "I thought there was a need for diabetics and celiacs to go where they don't have to spend hours reading the labels," he says.

Crêpes on the run

Unless you spotted them at one of this summer's local events such as the Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival, then you, like me, may not have known that we are home to a newly launched mobile crêpe vendor named the Crepe Crusaders ( Given that four new sit-down crêperies have opened within the last year, this news really shouldn't surprise anyone too much.

But what is surprising is how after only a few short months in business, the family outfit, which currently vends only to private parties, corporate events and festivals, has received a nomination to appear on next season's The Great Food Truck Race program on the Food Network. Visit the outfit's website to link to Food Network's contest page, where you can cast a vote for them prior to Friday, Sept. 10.

Owner Linda Keller, a graduate of Pikes Peak Community College's culinary program, says she'd never seen the show until a friend suggested that she and her family would make good participants. The gist is that seven teams cook their way across the country facing various food challenges, with the highest-selling teams advancing toward a $50,000 purse.

Crêperies going green

Coquette Creperie (915 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, recently moved to serving all locally produced meats, including beef items from Shamrock-distributed Gold Canyon Gourmet Beef and gluten-free sausages from Mulay's Sausage out of Crested Butte.

• Responding to a minor criticism in our July 15 food review, Wholly Crêpe (1710 Briargate Blvd., has moved away from disposable plastic plates (for which Chapel Hills Mall offers no recycling) to washable fancy plates. Cheers!


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