The muffin whiz

Vina Wong goes against the grain

Feeling a little queasy, bloated, crampy as that bowl of barley soup churns in your stomach; wheezy, sneezy, itchy after eating that plate of pasta; irritable and fatigued from scarfing down that turkey on rye?

It’s possible you have a sensitivity to gluten, that rubbery, elastic protein that naturally occurs in certain grains like wheat, rye and barley.

Vina Wong, the muffin maven of La Jolla who recently launched her Muffin Physics enterprise, is committed to baking nutritious, tasty snacks for gluten-sensitive individuals who usually suffer nasty side effects from conventionally baked goods.Vina’s inspiration came from a family friend who had several children, one a grain-sensitive Celiac. The whole family ate a restricted diet without wheat, rye, barley and oats to accommodate the one allergic child."As a recovering scientist, I enjoy solving problems and am exceptional at it when it comes to topics that are intuitive for me - like food,” Wong said. “I wanted to create something everyone could eat, especially for those with Celiac Disease, multiple food allergies, as well as vegans. I made my first gluten-free and allergen-free muffin six months ago."_

Her Muffin Physics’ products are not only gluten-free, but she also eliminates the top nine common food allergens - wheat, dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), fish, shellfish and sulfites.Wong’s gluten-and-allergen-free muffins come in three flavors - a carrot-pineapple- ginger combo, chocolate-banana and raisin-hemp, while several other flavors are in the works. They are made primarily from brown rice, garbanzo bean flowers and ground flaxseeds, so not only are they a source of complete protein, but also pack a heap of Omega-3 fatty acids and a load of fiber that are all easily digestible.Wong is an improv cook and a one-woman show who tinkers in her commercial test kitchen in El Cajon, mixing and matching until her muffins have the desirable taste and texture to her discriminating taste buds.This muffin girl honed her culinary skills when she lived on a student co-op in Michigan working on her Ph.D. program in nuclear engineering, and her job was to cook for 100 students.Her vision is to see these muffins as part of a free school breakfast program at public schools. But for now, check out the gluten-free freezer section at Whole Foods Market in La Jolla, Hillcrest and Tustin.Wong’s standing advice for budding food entrepreneurs is to “dream big and dare to go against the grain” - especially if it’s gluten free.For additional information, e-mail Vina Wong atvina@muffinphysics.comor visit her Web site