After moving to the United States a decade ago from Serbia, Sanja Pesich inexplicably found herself doubled over in pain anytime she ate bread.
Turns out she had developed a sensitivity to gluten.
As she educated herself about how to bake her favorite treats without gluten, an idea for a new business also came about.
The result is Dia Delights.
Pesich, a Santa Clara University business school graduate, put her studies to work, creating a business that specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods. She sells them at the Vallco farmers market in Cupertino on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and at the Santa Teresa Boulevard (at Camino Verde) farmers market in San Jose on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additionally, her treats are sold at Good Karma Deli in San Jose. She also does custom orders for weddings and parties.
After winning a California Entrepreneurship Program scholarship, she teamed up with her business partner, Tanja Vrcelj, who has a son with severe allergies to milk, dairy and peanuts.
Pesich says nothing is more satisfying to her than to bring her treats to a classroom and watch as every child, no matter their food allergies, are able to indulge. “For children with allergies, not being able to participate in celebrations can be very emotional,” she says.
Recently, I had a chance to sample some of her goodies. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from food allergies, but I’m always interested in trying products geared to those with dietary restrictions to see just how closely they can resemble the real deal.
In Pesich’s case, she comes as close as one can. Her cookies and cakes are made with a flour mix that consists of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, white sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and fava bean flour. Her products also make use of extra virgin coconut oil, cane sugar, soy protein, lactic acid (non-dairy and derived from sugar beets) and flaxseed meal. Her cakes and cookies often incorporate fruit to ensure they stay moist.
There’s a nice homemade quality to the products, as they are all created by hand in small batches. The double-chocolate chip cookie was soft and fudgy tasting, with just a hint of a beany note to it. The chocolate chip cookie was cakey in texture and the oatmeal cranberry cookie was none too sweet and full of heartiness from the gluten-free whole grain oatmeal.
The chocolate-raspberry cupcakes are moist with a muffin-like texture. You wouldn’t know the cream cheese frosting flavored with a touch of vanilla was vegan from just the taste, as it’s as thick, creamy and as satisfying as the familiar Philadelphia brand.