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Belle Pleva has made it possible for so many people with restrictive diets and food allergies to once again delight in the simple joy of a sweet treat. Paleo Mama Bakery, which specializes in gluten-free and grain-free food products, was born out of Pleva becoming aware of her own autoimmune disease. “It was really difficult to find products in the store that I was able to eat that didn’t upset my stomach,” she says.

Pleva, a former Madison teacher, started experimenting with recipes at home that eliminated the three main things causing her discomfort — grains, dairy and sugar. She knew she wasn’t alone in wanting alternative options. “I wanted to be able to help other people and make something good out of what had happened to me,” she says. Paleo Mama has continued to expand since Pleva started the business in 2014, serving a thankful clientele flour-, grain- and gluten-free sweet and savory food products that contain no refined sugars and, for the most part, no dairy products.

Pleva continues to experiment with natural sweeteners and alternative flours to create paleo and keto treats that will still satisfy your sweet tooth. “I have people coming in, calling, emailing me thanking me for what I do and letting me know how it changed their life and how they’re able to eat something that they’ve never had their entire life or haven’t had in 10 years,” Pleva says.

The 411

Where to find Paleo Mama’s treats
Paleo Mama has been in its new storefront space right off Williamson Street behind The Weary Traveler Freehouse since October 2019. You can walk in and peruse two freezers and a full bakery case at the store, or you can place orders online at paleomamabakery.com. The bakery’s 40-some products are sold all over town, at the Dane County Farmers’ Market and also in about 32 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

What makes it sweet?
Pleva uses natural sweeteners such as honey from Gentle Breeze Honey Inc., maple syrup and coconut sugar in many of her recipes. She also makes her own vanilla by soaking vanilla beans in vodka. The bakery is stocked with big tubs of flour, including coconut, almond and cassava varieties. Pleva says she has recently started to source from Tribe 9 Foods, a local food purveyor.

Yes, everything is gluten-free
For the love of all that is paleo, refrain from asking if an item is gluten-free at Paleo Mama’s. Pleva never minds giving the answer, but she says her staff gets asked the question so often that they post multiple signs at their Dane County Farmers’ Market stand saying, “Yes, everything is gluten- free.”

3 Things to Try

Bites that are bomb

Cookie dough bites

Photo by Larry Chua

Try Paleo Mama’s frozen cookie dough bites and keto-friendly fat bombs. The egg-free cookie dough is safe to eat raw or bake into cookies. The fat bombs are little balls of cream cheese, almond butter and Swerve rolled in unsweetened chocolate.

Savory selections, too!

Bagel Bites

Photo by Larry Chua

Paleo Mama makes pizza crusts plus a few other savory items to make eating paleo and keto a little easier. Paleo Mama offers garlic rosemary naan, topped pizzas, crackers, spinach tortillas, bagel bites and jalapeño cheddar rolls. “We’ve done a lot of experimenting to come up with these items,” Pleva says.

A reinvented childhood favorite

Toasterpastries

Photo by Larry Chua

You’ll often find Pleva’s toaster pastries in her bakery case at the shop and at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. These little mini pie creations — which Pleva fills with mixed berries, apple, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb and more — are topped with a glaze and natural sprinkles. They’re completely drool-worthy and 100% vegan and gluten-free.

Find them: Paleo Mama Bakery 409 S. Few St., 561-2789

Editor’s Note: The storefront is currently closed due to COVID-19, but online delivery is available.

Andrea Behling is editor of Madison Magazine.

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