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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Special Nutrition Levels Up Its Gluten-Free Game

Mar 01, 2020 11:36AM ● By Janet Lindsay

by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer 


In January 2020, a certain gluten-free bakery—the only one of its kind here in Sarasota—closed its doors on Stickney Point Road after 14 years in business. While this was likely a source of disappointment for the Sarasota residents who frequented this bakery, it was the start of a new campaign for Louise Mastro, the owner of Special Nutrition.  

Located next-door to the former bakery, Mastro had long partnered with its staff to provide her own customers with gluten-free breads, pastries and desserts. So she embarked on a round-the-clock mission to find a new bakery replacement—one that offered scratch made gluten-free products with the use of only vegan and natural ingredients in a dedicated gluten-free facility without the top allergens such as dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy and tree nuts.  

This tireless search introduced Mastro to HaleLife Bakery, a local establishment in St. Petersburg which is unique to Southwest Florida in that no cross-contamination whatsoever can be found there. HaleLife’s owner Laura McCutcheon and her son Taylor were both diagnosed with celiac disease within just a year of each other—2009 and 2008, respectively.  

Fueled by the desire and inspiration to serve her area’s celiac and gluten-free community who, like her son and herself, cannot digest a normal slice of wheat bread from the supermarket, McCutcheon opened HaleLife in 2017. Now three years later, this gluten-free bakery has the attention of Mastro and her customers. In fact, within just the first week of offering HaleLife products at Special Nutrition, the entire selection was sold-out.  

This is further proof that Sarasota residents appreciate Mastro’s commitment to only partner with businesses who care about health and prioritize both the quality and safety of ingredients over the sheer convenience of mass-production. The vegan, scratch made, natural and allergy-safe treats from this dedicated gluten-free bakery have earned a seal of approval from Special Nutrition’s three on-staff nutritional consultants too.  

In addition to these new items in the store, the aisles of Special Nutrition continue to be stocked with an immense, diverse assortment of health foods, supplements and vitamins from the most reputable brands in the wellness industry. The prices are lower than customers will find at any similar establishment in Sarasota, as Mastro and her team always match the price if an item has been marked less expensive somewhere else.      

Finally, true to the name “Special” Nutrition, if a certain product or brand cannot be found in store, then a staff member is more than willing to special order it for the customer and ship it anywhere in the continental United States. More than 19 years ago, Mastro created her business on the foundation of special orders which has remained a core tenet ever since. So whether those who visit Special Nutrition are in need of a supplement or in the mood for a gluten-free cupcake, one fact is certain—they came to the right place indeed.  


Special Nutrition is located at 1882 Stickney Point Rd., Sarasota. The store hours are Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit  

Natural Awakenings of Sarasota September 2020 Digital Edition


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