Archive for Author

Cookbook – Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn’s and IBS by Sandra Ramacher

Gluten-Free & Grain-Free Cookbook

While the name of this cookbook – “Healing Foods” – might conjure up images of boring, tasteless, but oh, so healthy food, nothing could be further from the truth. Sandra has managed to infuse flavor into everything from beverages including Raspberry Cordial and Chai Tea to sauces both sweet and savory – Caesar Dressing and Honey Caramel Sauce. Her strawberry jam is wonderful – see the recipe below. Not only do the recipes sound good, but the book is filled with beautiful photos that make you want to cook her recipes.

Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 1998, Sandra discovered the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) in 2004 and just two years later was able to stop taking her medication. (Here’s more of her story – and her reminder not to stop taking medication without speaking first with your doctor.)

Sandra’s tastes are obviously international and perhaps more gourmet than some cookbooks with recipes that include Mini Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce, Lamb Koftas and Fish Dumplings with Green Chili Sambal. There are also everyday recipes like her Cheddar Crackers which are very popular among reviewers.

In many gluten-free or grain-free cookbooks, the dessert section is larger than the others. I find it refreshing that Sandra filled her cookbook instead with main courses, interesting condiments, breakfasts, beverages, and, of course, some desserts, breads, cakes, and cookies (biscuits in the cookbook as it is in Australia). Quite a few of the recipes contain dairy but would probably work with substitutes (but I have not tried that).

This is a cookbook from Australia but Sandra gives both metric and cup/teaspoon measurements for most items. For Americans, we’ll have slight mental adjustments to make for differences such as vanilla extract being called vanilla essence. There’s also the occasional item to look up like Lebanese cucumber – an American’s best substitute seems to be an English cucumber – and Swede which is the rutabaga.

Sandra’s still creating recipes that stretch the boundaries of what you can make on a grain-free diet on her blog. She recently posted a recipe for Jaffles, a pressed sandwich with a filling that I’d never heard of in the U.S. She’s managed to make this with an almond flour crust and offers a couple of fillings including one with chicken, sundried tomatos and basil. (yum!)


Sandra Ramacher answered my questions about her food philosophy, whether or not she’s still following the same diet (SCD), and if she’s planning a second cookbook. She also offered some helpful tips:
My philosophy for writing Healing Foods, Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn’s and IBS was to provide IBD sufferers with recipes that would make it easy, yet exciting to eat the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. They are generally all the comfort foods I was used to, just redesigned to fit in with the diet.
I am still eating the SCD way, firstly because I really don’t miss refined and processed foods at all. I did for a little while re-introduce some gluten free foods such as rice and gluten free breads back into my diet, but found that I was getting quite congested and developed asthma and chronic rhinitis. As soon as I went back onto the SCD I was fine. I am now feeling quite excited again to develop some more great recipes, but am not looking at publishing another book. Instead I am developing my blog which incorporates some great new recipes.
You do have to love cooking to make eating the SCD a great experience, as this is the only way to get some great variety of yummy foods, because when eating out one is generally restricted to eating simple foods, such as a fillet of grilled fish with salad, or a plain steak with non starchy vegetable. My favourite trick is to take along homemade dijonnaise or BBQ sauce in a small plastic container to make my plain steak or fish more exciting. And, I also take biscuits [note to Americans - cookies], so that I don’t have to feel deprived of dessert.
The jelly made from the recipe below reminds me somewhat of the strawberry freezer jam that my mom made growing up. Instead of pectin, this uses gelatin and creates a quick and fairly easy jelly. My husband enjoyed it on his gluten-free waffle for breakfast. The 100 ml of water, the last ingredient listed, equals just over 1/3 cup.
 Strawberry Jelly
Makes about 2 cups
375 g (2 1/2 cups) fresh strawberries - hulled and quartered
250 ml (1 cup) water
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
150 g (1/2) honey
1 Tbs gelatin
100 ml warm water
Place the strawberries, water, lemon juice, and honey into a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve, gently squeezing out as much juice as possible. Dissolve the gelatin in 100 ml of warm water and stir into the hot juice. Pour into a glass, tighten lid and refrigerate overnight to set. Serve with toasted white bread or on our pancakes.
Permission granted to post this recipe by Sandra Ramacher.

Thank you, Sandra!

Donielle Baker from Naturally Knocked Up

Hope for a Family

When diagnosed a decade ago with poly-cystic ovary syndrome, a condition that can make conceiving difficult, Donielle Baker didn’t give up on her dream of a family; she started looking for answers. Those answers changed the course of her life. Now the parent of a boy and girl, and a baby in Heaven from a miscarriage last year, she’s completely changed her life because of what she learned.

Donielle had previously eaten “healthy” foods just like many of us – skim milk, whole grain breads and cereals. Through her successful blog – Naturally Knocked Up – and a book by the same name released earlier this year, Donielle shares what she’s learned about natural fertility with key players such as whole foods, stress reduction, and natural living.

She’s also eating gluten-free and agreed to answer some questions about this for Enjoying Gluten-Free Life’s readers.

Q & A:

Q: Since this is a gluten-free blog, with related issues, please share with us when and why you started eating gluten-free. 

A: My family actually started eating gluten free because we found out that much of the health issues that my husband dealt with could be related to a gluten intolerance. Within a few weeks, we had our answer and the rest of our family slowly went gluten free over the next few months. While I still eat wheat products from time to time (every few months), when I’m out of the house, our home is gluten free. (I have gone 6-8 months completely gluten free and have found that for me, gluten isn’t an issue.)

So my blog isn’t entirely gluten free at this point, because I started it a couple of years before we made the switch. Though I often make some of my old recipes, we use gluten free alternatives for them now.

Q: Can dietary and/or lifestyle changes such as going gluten-free help someone who is infertile become fertile?

A: For some people, going gluten free can definitely make a big impact on their fertility. Not only can it cause infertility, but it’s often associated with second trimester losses as well as male factor infertility. The direct cause is sometimes unknown as to why gluten affects fertility, but there are a couple of different theories. One is that the gluten damages the intestines and the body can not absorb the nutrients it needs to function or produce hormones properly. The other is that it could be an auto-immune issue where the body begins attacking new cells. One of my blog friends actually got me researching the link between infertility and loss and gluten intolerance, when she found out (after infertility and multiple losses) that she had celiac. She has now gone on to have two more children.

Q: Is it only important for the woman to change her diet and lifestyle when a couple has been unable to conceive or is it also important for the man to make changes?

A: Whether or not the man also deals with fertility issues doesn’t matter. Half of the DNA comes from the man, so he too should do what is within his power to keep himself healthy to ensure strong sperm and genetic material. There are also ways that a man can naturally increase his fertility if he deals with low sperm count or poor motility/morphology as well. And of course, this goes the other way as well for women if the cause for infertility is due to her husband’s health – she too needs to make sure she eats a nourishing diet!

Thank you, Donielle.

Jenny Lass, Co-Author of “Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet”

Deliciously Grain-Free

Co-authors Jenny Lass and Jodi Bager wrote “Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet” and the earlier book “Grain-Free Gourmet.” Both are good but, as most of us will agree, sometimes a cookbook really clicks with you. That’s how I feel about Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet and the recipes inside. (See the photo of their pound cake below.)

But first, Jenny’s story which some of you may be able to relate to. She grew up as a normal kid with a bit of a touchy stomach. In her mid-20s, severe fatigue and joint pain kicked in. Terrible colds, enough that she cracked a rib from coughing, seemed to be symptoms that her immune system was shutting down. Then diarrhea started and the frequency of trips to the bathroom increased to the point that she stopped going out. She says, “Around Christmas time 1999 things were really going south for me.” About that time, a family friend gave her a copy of the book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” Jenny set the book aside.

Her doctor wasn’t able to give answers to her problems but a  registered dietician suggested that she might have celiac disease. Jenny says, “She said to try the gluten-free diet and I just got sicker and sicker. It was Christmastime; I thought I can’t go to the doctor.” That’s when she remembered the book she’d been given. “I pulled the book off the shelf and thought I’d try it. I had a simple meal from it and the next day I wasn’t sick. I did my best to follow the diet and literally overnight got my life back. It was as if it was what my body had always wanted to eat.” She switched doctors and her new doctor diagnosed her based on her symptoms which pointed to celiac disease.

The diet in “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD. (More on the diet next week but, for now, it’s grain-free and was the diet for celiacs before the gluten-free diet. Today it’s often used by those with ulcerative colitis, co-author Jodi Bager’s health issue,  and crohn’s disease.) Jenny’s been on the SCD for 12 years. About the diet, Jenny says, “One of of the things that really angers me that I hear over and over again is that it’s hard to follow. It’s not that hard. I very rarely feel deprived. You just make all your old favorites in new ways.” She describes the food she eats as “healthy, whole food, something my body recognizes as food” and “food that your great great grandmother would recognize.”

In this, their second cookbook, Jenny and Jodi repeat some of the foundation recipes from the earlier book such as the yogurt that’s an integral part of the SCD. The cookbook is divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The majority of the recipes are suitable for every day with some – in spite of the title – excellent for entertaining or a special occasion.

Jenny says that of the two of them, Jodi is the who tends to write recipes that are “more upscale and fancy” so Jodi’s the creator of the recipes for Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese on Organic Greens and Spinach Gnocchi. Jenny says, ”I tend to do slightly simpler recipes.” She created the Dijon Buns and Sweet Squash Kugel. Jenny, a writer by profession, wrote the fascinating history of the SCD in the beginning of the cookbook. Jodi came up with a brilliant system at the back of the book for mixing and matching the recipes to make meals.

I had a question for Jenny about why almond flour is used so much. Why not another nut? She says, “Almonds are very neutral in flavor, walnuts are bitter and quite oily, peanuts or hazelnuts are very strongly flavored, pecans have a slight bitterness. Almonds aren’t quite as oily and take on whatever flavoring you put with it.” That makes sense.

Jenny gave me permission to give you the recipe for Glazed Pound Cake. I was shocked when I made it. Even though it’s made with almond flour, it doesn’t have a nutty texture as many almond flour baked goods do. It just tastes like pound cake. She strongly preferred that I use butter in the glaze or use another glaze but I wanted to make it as close as possible to the way it was written and I don’t eat dairy. I substituted Earth Balance Coconut Spread and it was delicious. (I have one additional confession. Instead of letting the cake and glaze cool per the directions, I put the warm glaze on the warm cake and had a slice then. It was yummy warm.) This cake would be a great base for other flavors. I think next time we may add some orange or lemon zest to it. I also think it would be good with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

Glazed Pound Cake

2 cups (500 mL) finely ground almond flour (I used Honeyville)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
1 Tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

1. Preheat the over to 300° F (150° C) and line a greased 9 x 5 inch (2-L) loaf paper.
2. Mix the almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
3. Add the honey, vanilla, and eggs to the flour mixture and whisk together until combined thoroughly and smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared load pan and bake until a knife comes out clean when inserted, about 40 minutes.
5. Let cool.

3 Tbsp (45 mL) honey
2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pure vanilla extract

1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until the glaze is even in color and texture. It should be runny and a little warm from the melted butter.
2. Let cool to room temperature.

1. Place the cooled loaf on a serving plate. Drizzle the glaze over top, allowing it to run down the sides of the loaf.
2. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, at least 1 hour.

Thank you Jenny for the wonderful interview! Some additional recipes can be found on their website.

Jodi is also the president of the food company Grain-Free JK Gourmet.

Dominick Cura – Eternally Gluten-Free

A Teen’s Cookbook

Dominick Cura was diagnosed with celiac disease when he was nine. No pity party for this kid though. Now 13, he has a blog - Eternally Gluten-Free - and recently published a cookbook with the same name. Creating recipes is a big committment at any age so, as soon as I read about his cookbook, I knew I had to give his recipes a try and let you know how they were.

First, here is a Q & A with Dominick:

What’s your favorite recipe from your cookbook?
I have favorite recipes for all sorts of stuff.
Red Velvet Cupcakes are one of my favorites because of the amazing color.
Tres Leches Cake is my favorite for its taste.
Then my favorite easy recipe is my Nutty Almond Cookies because they’re no-bake and they taste really good.
My favorite difficult recipe is Struffoli, an Italian dessert that is fried balls of dough the size of marbles that are dipped in honey, formed into a dome and then showered with colorful sprinkles.

Which recipe did you have to work on most to get it just right?
There were lots of recipes that I just couldn’t get right and so I couldn’t put them in my book, but other than those my Ricotta cheese cake, because there were so many little things I couldn’t get right that were important.

Some people believe writing a cookbook is easy but it takes a lot of work and commitment. What was the hardest part about writing a cookbook and the best thing about writing it?

It is really hard writing a cookbook. There was a lot of hard stuff about it. I think the main thing that was the hardest was how anxious I was to get the cookbook done. Another hard part was making the recipes, because there were a lot of times where I completely messed up a recipe and it gets really devastating and discouraging, but I knew I can’t stop baking so I just had to keep trying.
The best part, is the cooking! I guess also a good part is the results after the book is published, like the happiness of publishing it and stuff!


This is a cookbook of sweet treats – the book’s full title is “Eternally Gluten-Free: A Cookbook of Sweets and Inspiration, From a Teen!” It’s obvious that Dominick loves sweets. I’d never seen anyone add sugar to a milkshake before him. :) Most of us miss our usual sweets when we start eating gluten-free so here’s a nice place to begin making them. He uses mostly brown and white rice flour along with tapioca flour which are all fairly inexpensive and easy to find. The only negative I saw was that his directions don’t have as much detail as you will find in some cookbooks but, with that said, it wasn’t a problem for me.

Wanting to give his cookbook a fair test, I tried three of his recipes. I took the first two to a church picnic and served the third at a family dinner.

Nutty Almond Cookies

Ok, these were great. You need to try them. They’re a no-bake cookie so perfect for this time of year. The good news is that this recipe is also on his blog. (Click here) He says to use “slightly crushed pecans.” I gave my pecan halves a quick whir in the food processor.

Lemon Bars

His Lemon Bars were unusual, not the typical crisp bottom with lemon on top, that we think of when we hear the words “lemon bars.” It isn’t a flaw in the recipe, though, it’s a different type of recipe. His crust and filling have yogurt, something I’ve never seen in a typical recipe for these. Everyone enjoyed them but said the texture was more chewy. Another person said the flavor reminded him of Country Time Lemonade. I ask my taste testers if they would want to eat these again and they said “Yes.”  

Ricotta Cheesecake

 My 13-year-old nephew’s eyes lit up when I told him the cheesecake he was about to eat was from a cookbook written by a boy the same age as him. Everyone enjoyed the flavor in Dominick’s cheesecake. The density of the cheesecake was perfect. You do need to know that cheesecake made from ricotta cheese has more texture than cheesecake made from cream cheese. When I made mine, I substituted a cookie crust for his cracker crust and probably shouldn’t have because my crust came out a bit soggy. (Tip: He told me he uses Glutino crackers for his crust so that’s probably the way to go.) I also skipped pushing the ricotta through a strainer and threw everything in the food processor. 

I think this is a cookbook worth owning and especially good for anyone who has a gluten-free kid about Dominick’s age. He has an excellent attitude about gluten-free life and is a good example.

Thank you Dominick!


Cookbook Author Kim Lutz & Cookbook Giveaway

All Welcome

Kim Lutz invites everyone, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or with food allergies, to eat together with her cookbook, “Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.” She’s giving away a copy of her cookbook to one of my readers! (See how to enter below.)

Her experiences with food allergies began when her first baby was small. His severe eczema – she had to put him in a long sleeved shirt and sew the sleeves shut so he couldn’t scratch himself and bleed while sleeping – led to a diagnosis of tree nuts, egg and dairy allergies while she was still nursing. This vegetarian overnight became a vegan for her child’s sake.

Recipes use readily available foods because, Kim says, “I’m lucky I live in a big city and I have access to a lot of specialty ingredients not everyone has that.” While this is a cookbook that could be used every day, it can also be tool for those times when you’re entertaining and need to cater to special dietary needs, needs you don’t deal with every day. She says, “Maybe you’re eating nuts on a different day, these recipes work for you if you’re not. You can substitute up if you choose. You could use one of the main dishes as a side dish. I wanted it to be flexible, easy and relatively affordable.”

In fact, neither she or anyone in her family has to eat gluten-free. Why a gluten-free cookbook? She says, “That is also part of my welcoming kitchen philosophy. My hope would be that the cookbook could be a tool to make life easier for people. For someone who’s newly facing these restrictions, I wanted to make a tool that would take away a lot of that anxiety because it can be so overwhelming. When we came from the allergist the first time with Casey, I went to the grocery store with this new information, and I just stood in the cereal aisle and cried. I thought ‘there’s nothing I can buy.’ That turned out to not be true.” (Casey is now nine and has a younger brother who’s 6.)

If you need to take something to a potluck but don’t usually cook without eggs  or tree nuts, here are recipes. Want to entertain but unsure how to work around restrictions? Kim says, “Hey, it’s easy. You can still have a dinner party only making food he [the special person] can eat.” She’s had a buffet meal for 35 people that was vegan and allergen free and says, “Nobody knew, nobody cared. I want this to be a little bit of a sigh of relief for somebody.”

Her baking recipes are different than those you’ll see in most gluten-free cookbooks; they all use oat flour - with a note at the bottom if a gluten-free flour blend will also work – instead of the many flours you’ll often see listed. This is also part of Kim’s welcoming philosophy. “A grandmother’s not going to make a $30 cookie. There’s a need for the grandmother who has to do gluten-free when her grandchild comes over but doesn’t cook that way all the time.” Kim’s plan is that she buy gluten-free oats, grind that into flour and bake with it instead of buying specialty flours. “And, grandma can make oatmeal with those oats and there’s no waste.” When a recipe does say it can be made with a gluten-free flour blend, Kim’s tested it with both with bean-based and rice-based flours.

Her advice for those eating a special diet: “I try to have a positive attitude, there is such an abundance of foods, you’re silly if you don’t embrace the full range of what’s out there.”

I agree. Thank you Kim! Also check out her blog, Welcoming Kitchen where her newest post (as of this moment) has kid-friendly ice pops she managed to sneak spinach into. (Gotta admire that.)

I made Italian Hummus from her cookbook and I have to say it’s one of the best that I’ve ever had. (And I really like hummus.) It’s made with cannellini beans so a bit different than the usual but very creamy. I had some friends taste test it and they all enjoyed it. Kim gave me permission to post the recipe here.

Italian Hummus


4 sun-dried tomato halves
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Soak sun-dried toatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse cannellini beans. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

I used no-salt beans so added a pinch of salt. I also used regular black pepper instead of white pepper. As a tip: if your garlic cloves are oversized, as mine were, use less.

Welcoming Kitchen Cookbook Giveaway

The contest is closed. Congratulations to Jasmine W., the winner of Kim Lutz’s cookbook!

Enter by Thursday, June 28, at midnight Central to win a copy of Kim’s cookbook, Welcoming Kitchen.

To enter, leave a comment giving your favorite food today.  (No allergens that have to be avoided. I can’t say Krispy Kreme.) For a second entry, subscribe via email to my blog and leave a comment saying so. You can also follow me on Facebook and twitter for additional entries but please post once for each saying you’ve done that.

I’ll announce the winner on the June 29. Winners must live in the United States or have a U.S. mailing address.

Ron Hoggan – Part I


I’m honored to present this interview with Ron Hoggan, Ed.D., author of “Dangerous Grains” and “Cereal Killers,” and editor of “The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.” Diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, Hoggan has devoted much of his life to the pursuit and sharing of information about gluten and its related issues.

Dr. Hoggan answered my questions and provided so much excellent detail that I broke it into two posts. The first gives suggestions about what to do when your doctor refuses to test you (something that happens alarmingly often), whether or not non-celiac gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disorder, and possible reasons all grains are an issue for some. The second post will be about opioid peptides, and how gluten impacts both mood and learning disabilities.

“Dangerous Grains,” co-authored with James Braley, M.D., has great information about gluten and how it affects health. Though it’s ten years old, the information remains timely. One of my favorite things about this book is the amazing “Comprehensive List of Gluten-Associated Medical Conditions” in the back of the book.

Co-authored with Scott Adams, founder of, Hoggan’s newest book is “Cereal Killers.” Filled with articles by many individuals, some experts in the field, some simply people sharing their gluten story, the book covers just about every imaginable gluten-related subject from diagnosis to dining out.  

Q & A:

“If you feel better when gluten free, why would or should you care if you meet the medical diagnostic criteria for celiac disease?” Ron Hoggan

Q: Medical professionals and others shout from the rooftops that someone needs to be tested before they go on a gluten-free diet, but that isn’t always an easy thing to do. What advice do you have for someone who wants to be tested for celiac disease and gluten intolerance but cannot get a doctor to do so? (My aunt has rheumatoid arthritis and whole wheat makes her sick, but her doctor told her she didn’t have celiac disease – without testing her. Mrs. United States, Shannon Ford, also had a hard time getting a doctor to test her.)

A: I would argue that when a physician refuses to order a simple test, like the serum antibody tests for celiac disease along with total IgA measurement, they are working from an outdated understanding of medicine where the patient is objectified, and the patient’s input is devalued or ignored. It is probably time to find a new doctor when such testing is refused. If that is not possible, she might ask her physician to put in writing her/his reasons for refusing the test. I have found that almost always leads to the expedited ordering of serum antibody tests, but be sure to ask for a total IgA measurement as well. If there is an IgA deficiency (common in celiac disease and rare in the general population), the tests will be negative even in active celiac disease.

That said, perhaps the most important facet of this issue is that the individual who has been refused testing really has only four choices: they can change the doctor’s mind; they can live with their complaints; they can go doctor shopping, asking the new doctor to test for celiac disease; or they can try a gluten-free diet on their own.

If a person chooses to try the diet, they should understand that they are unlikely to ever get an accurate diagnosis of celiac disease even after just a few days on the diet. It sometimes takes years to develop villous atrophy, and prescribing specific durations and quantities of gluten to ingest for a gluten challenge are really just based on guesswork. Everyone is so variable that it is impossible to rule out celiac disease with certainty. Although some people do get a diagnosis following a gluten challenge, many more continue to suspect celiac disease, with good cause, despite negative test results.

On the other hand, the most reliable test is, in my opinion, the diet. If you feel better when gluten free, why would or should you care if you meet the medical diagnostic criteria for celiac disease? Just stick with the diet. But that is a problem with self-prescribing the gluten-free diet. The research shows that people are less likely to stay with the diet, long-term, in the absence of a firm diagnosis. Nonetheless, I do know people who have self-prescribed the diet and have been on it for more than twenty years.


“For instance, when gluten avoidance reverses another form of autoimmunity or provides relief from the symptoms of autoimmunity, it is difficult to argue that these are not cases of autoimmune disease driven by gluten.” Ron Hoggan

I keep hearing people say that celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder but being gluten intolerant is not. What is the difference? Is there a difference?

Autoimmune disease has repeatedly been shown to benefit from a gluten-free diet in some patients. Most of these people do not have celiac disease. They are sometimes characterized as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. There are others with bowel symptoms similar to celiac disease but without villous atrophy. These, too, are often identified as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. Still others have symptoms of other ailments that are not associated with celiac disease or other autoimmune disease, but appear to benefit from a gluten-free diet.

The arguments I’ve heard and read on this issue indicate that celiac disease is an autoimmune disease while those with bowel symptoms that improve on the diet are not. This argument is silly. We don’t yet know enough about non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance to categorically state that it is or is not autoimmune. All we can say with any confidence is that non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not cause an autoimmune attack on the intestinal wall resulting in villous atrophy. However, it may well cause other forms of autoimmunity.

For instance, when gluten avoidance reverses another form of autoimmunity or provides relief from the symptoms of autoimmunity, it is difficult to argue that these are not cases of autoimmune disease driven by gluten. There is even debate about some of the immune mechanisms at work in non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Dr. Fasano recently identified innate immune responses as characteristic of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. As mentioned earlier, I recognize that gluten impacts natural killer cells which are part of the innate immune system.  We know that adaptive immune reactions are a characteristic of celiac disease. However, I would argue that there is a huge gap there that has been ignored in Dr. Fasano’s stated position (and I can’t imagine that he overlooked it by accident).

IgG and IgA serum antibodies against gliadin, a family of proteins found in wheat, are considered non-specific. Yet they indicate that our bodies are mounting an immune reaction against this very common food. They are currently dismissed because they are not specific to any single illness or group of illnesses. They are very common in many autoimmune illnesses. Yet they are also seen in apparently healthy people. So the assumption is that they are meaningless. I think that Dr. Fasano has very wisely avoided the conflict surrounding this contentious issue and is pursuing other ways of characterizing non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

I am not so wise. While I agree that anti-gliadin antibodies are non-specific, they are far from meaningless. They reveal that undigested and partly digested gluten proteins are getting into the bloodstream, which should not be happening. They also identify an immune reaction against gluten that reflects our bodies’ trying to avert the harmful impacts of gluten. Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou, the head of neurology at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, has been publishing reports for about twenty years that connect a variety of neurological diseases with anti-gliadin antibodies. They are only meaningless to those who have difficulty admitting to our broad areas of ignorance in this unexplored area of medicine.


“And if you produce selective antibodies against protein segments (peptides) that are common to one or more other members of the grain family, you will probably react to this other member or members of the grain family.” Ron Hoggan

Do you know of any research about grains other than wheat, rye and barley (and perhaps oats) being problematic for the gluten intolerant? (This one is because of my personal situation. I recently had to eliminate all other grains and have noticed a significant difference. This may be just me but I’m curious.)

Sure, just look at an image of selective antibodies on the Internet. You will see that the antibodies only identify a small segment of the harmful protein they are specifically made to combat. If the antibodies you make react to a segment of protein that is common to other members of the grain family, you will react to those as well.

Donald Kasarda published a grain family taxonomy on the Internet. If you look at that taxonomy of the grain families, you will see the relationships between the grains. For instance, while rice and corn are somewhat removed from gluten grains, they are still related. And if you produce selective antibodies against protein segments (peptides) that are common to one or more other members of the grain family, you will probably react to this other member or members of the grain family.

Sometimes, after avoiding these other grains for a few years, celiacs can return to eating them again. Sometimes they can’t. I don’t know of any way to predict an individual’s prospects on this issue.

The second half will be posted on April 5th.

Thank you Ron!

Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free

Making Dairy-Free Doable


USDA Photo

Since so many who avoid gluten also need to avoid dairy (I’ve seen figures up to 50%), I thought we’d all benefit from a chat with Alisa Fleming, author of “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living” and host of the websites Go Dairy Free and Alisa Cooks.

About 1/3 of the book is a detailed look at dairy, what dairy can do, debunking the myth that dairy is essential for calcium (since some parts of the world don’t eat dairy so this must not be true), and help for living dairy-free. The Go Dairy Free blog has many recipes, not all but many gluten-free. Alisa Cooks has a tab for Gluten-Free Recipes.

Q & A:

Many people who need to eat gluten-free also need to be dairy-free (myself included). For someone who is wondering if they need to take that step, what symptoms could dairy be causing?

This question is answered fairly well in my book, “Go Dairy Free,” and would be a hard one to touch on in a short answer. It also depends on what in dairy is causing ailment. Symptoms could be digestive (upset, irritable bowel, gas, diarrhea, even vomiting), immune (rashes, hives, swelling, skin disorders, asthma), or what seem like everyday issues (headaches, migraines, acne, weight gain). The list goes on.

With a gluten-free diet, none is allowed. Does someone have to remove all dairy from their diet to see benefits?

I am not a physician and can’t advise on if someone should remove all dairy or just some. In general, if you have any dairy, then the cravings for dairy will persist. Like any food, cutting it out completely is the best way to get over the hump of cravings. I find that people are much, much less successful when they have some dairy because their cravings persist and in some cases their symptoms persist. We are all different, but most doctors advise elimination of a food (not reduction) when testing to see if it is causing a reaction. If it is, then they usually advise avoidance.

To avoid feeling a sense of loss when removing dairy (I should say a sense of loss again for those who are already gluten-free), can you give us some ideas for meals that are dairy-free?

Whatever you do, do not focus on what you can’t have! Sit down, and make a list of what you can have … and include everything (vegetables, fruits, condiments, grains, etc.). Some great, easy options include corn tortilla tacos w/ guacamole and salsa instead of sour cream and cheese, chili, stir fries (use wheat-free tamari to keep them gluten-free!), pad thai with rice noodles, and of course a regular grilled meat or fish entrée with roasted vegetables. In my opinion, roasted vegetables of any kind make every meal great! The list goes on, I’m just scratching the surface with these ideas. Also, for many dishes it’s as simple as leave out the cheese, but add a little extra salt or some chopped olives. Our culture has gotten so used to adding cheese to everything that people often forget there is real food under there!

Eating dairy-free in restaurants often seems to offer fewer (or less flavorful) choices than eating gluten-free does. I have watched my husband eat the sides that came with his gluten-free meal, a Caesar salad without croutons and a loaded baked potato, while I ate a plain salad and plain baked potato. Do you have suggestions for getting tasty dairy-free (but still gluten-free) meals out?

This question put a big smile on my face as my husband and I had a similar poor experience at a restaurant. He is strictly gluten-free, I am strictly dairy-free, but we both find benefit in eating dairy-free and gluten-free together (to note, he has been dairy-free with me for all of these years, but when he went gluten-free at first, he accommodated a small amount of dairy at restaurants as he adjusted).

We were at a restaurant that had a full gluten-free menu and they said “no problem” on accommodating dairy-free too. Well, what we both ended up with were $25 entrees where the main dish was completely unseasoned (it seemed the normal seasoning had gluten and they just didn’t bother to season with anything else!) and accompanied by a dry baked potato and dry green beans. It was one of the worst meals I had ever had! The crux of the problem was that our waitress communicated poorly and the kitchen obviously had no real culinary skills. She simply said “no problem” but didn’t tell us how that would affect what they served us. Rather than rice pilaf they simply subbed dry baked potatoes without even asking us. A good restaurant would have seasoned the beans with salt, pepper and olive oil to ensure flavor. What it did teach me though is one, don’t go back to that restaurant! But two, make sure we know in advance exactly what they will be serving me.

If there is risk of something like a dry baked potato, I ask questions like … do you have a guacamole that is dairy-free, a flavorful salsa, a salad dressing that would go nicely, or another sauce like a sun-dried tomato or pure basil pesto that would add richness and flavor? You’d be surprised how many ways there are to dress up a potato without dairy! For salads, I ask if they can sub the cheese with some good olives. Most restaurants will accommodate. If they don’t have a salad dressing that will work, then I ask for balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and pepper to make my own flavor topping.


Coconut Butter

My husband loves all things coconut so I made this especially for him. He enjoyed it but, with his super sweet tooth, thought it could use a bit of sweetener. If we use it alone again (see what I did below to make it sweeter), we’ll sprinkle on some Truvia (a brand of powdered stevia.)

The recipe for Coconut Butter is both online and in the book. I used the oven method mentioned in the book and toasted the coconut at 300 degrees until golden then processed it in the food processor until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. This takes a while, don’t give up. Tip: Don’t put your finished coconut butter in the fridge. It’s becomes hard. Update: It can be scooped out at room temperature but it’s still solid. I put some in the microwave for a very short time (15 seconds in mine) to make it spreadable again.

Maple Pralines

Oh my, these are so good! Maple and cinnamon cover the pecans. These taste like they were complicated to make but they’re easy. I hadn’t realized that pralines usually had a dairy product such as cream or butter in them. We put these on a strawberry turkey salad for lunch. Delicious. After dinner, I thought, hmm, how would the pralines be on the coconut butter? I smoothed some coconut butter on a slice of gluten-free toast (Rudi’s) and topped it with the pralines. My husband loved it – with a glass of milk.

(Thank you for using this link if you purchase Alisa’s book. I have to tell you that if you do this, I will receive some money from the purchase.)



Dana Laake of “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook”

Helping Others Enjoy Life

A Licensed Nutritionist in Kensington, Maryland, Dana Laake of Dana Laake Nutrition co-authored “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook.” She brings to it a background of nearly four decades in the health industry, more than 25 of that in medical nutrition, treating both children and adults.

While the main title of the book implies it’s just a cookbook, smaller print tells the story – “The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet.” About a third of the book is text detailing diagnostic tools and the gluten-free casein-free diet (GFCF) plus other dietary changes that might be helpful for ADHD and autistic children. For parents wondering how to start their child on the diet, one section is titled “Getting Started – Easy Does It!” (Dana prefers a gradual withdrawal of the foods.)

There are also sections of the book that could be used by anyone, child or adult, on an “allergy” diet including charts with foods containing soy, corn or nuts – surprising to me, dextrose and lecithin could have corn in them.

The rest of the book is filled with recipes and ideas that even I, an adult with no kids, found useful such as the lunch idea for chicken strips with a BBQ dipping sauce. (yum) If anyone has a child that’s a picky eater, suggestions for sneaking healthy foods into the diet (what they call the “Trojan Horse technique”) may be helpful – pureed vegetables can be added to foods such as brownies, meatballs or tomato sauce.

There are a large variety of recipes in the cookbook, sometimes with options such as six for pancakes and three for rice milk. While she and co-author Pamela J. Compart, M.D. have included some desserts, this isn’t a baking cookbook so much as a general allergy cookbook with the presence of gluten, milk, soy, egg, corn, and nuts clearly marked at the top of each recipe. See the recipe below which is free of all of those (except nuts if you include coconut in that category as they do).


Dana answers some questions:

I’ve seen quotes from doctors basically saying that a gluten-free/casein-free diet is unhealthy. They say the child would no longer have calcium from dairy, etc. Can you address these concerns?

Glutens are a grain choice – there are many others that can be selected and still be gluten free. Milk products are a protein choice – beans, nuts, seeds, meat and fish are also protein choices.

Glutens and milk products have not been part of our diet for long, just .005% of human history, .05% of modern history. There are cultures throughout the world that have no access to animal milk. It is not a mandatory food group, that’s why a pyramid that makes it important is not anthropologically correct.

An organic, healthy diet is best – grass-fed beef, local. That generally applies to a lot of people. 

Do all autistic children show improvement with a gluten-free/casein-diet or other dietary changes?

It is a very specific group that will respond. About 1/3 with autism show significant improvement and another 1/3 will respond but not totally from diet alone. For the other 1/3, the autism diet’s irrelevant and doesn’t work. The diet is not the only treatment.

The GFCF diet is going to work most likely with children who are addicted to and limit their choices to 85% of gluten and casein products. They characteristically reject vegetables and sometimes fruit.

This is the art of nutrition and medicine, art based on science. The biomedical has to be done. We can be cleaning up the diet as you get the supplements in.

The RDA applies only to healthy people within a given population. It’s not people with autism, not people with other problems; their needs are now higher because of those things. (A section in the book titled “Supplements Make the Difference” gives more detail on the subject.)

What happens when a parent lets the child eat foods they’ve been off of?

I love it when the parents do the cheat [give foods not on the diet] so we know it’s working.

To all of us:

It’s not the food you don’t eat that makes you sick, it’s the food you love and crave. It takes at least 2-4 days to get casein out of your system, and a lot longer with some foods. Gluten can take months; we don’t know why it takes so long.


I tried the Coconut Sweet Rice from the cookbook and it’s quite good, sweet without sugar and rather exotic in flavor. Both my husband (a meat-and-potatoes guy) and I enjoyed it with dinner. My sweet tooth wanted to drizzle maple syrup on it and call it dessert. My creative side wondered how it would be with dates instead of raisins. (I also discovered leftovers are good the next day.)

Coconut Sweet Rice

1 cup water
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup raisins or currants (I used raisins)
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp turmeric*

Boil water. Add rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add raisins or currants, cinnamon stick, coconut milk, and turmeric. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until water has evaporated. (Recipe – and photo of Dana Laake – used with permission.)

My rice’s directions said to cook it 50 minutes so I began with 15 minutes instead of 10 then added the other ingredients and cooked it an additional 35 minutes. I also had to add about a cup more water but I often have to with rice – I don’t think I turn it as low as I should to simmer. (should have used the rice cooker) Do keep an eye on yours though. *I left out the turmeric because it isn’t something I would normally add to a sweet dish but will most likely add it next time. (I have to tell you that if you should buy this book through the link below, I will earn some money from the purchase.)

Cookbook Author Shreve Stockton

Enjoying her gluten-free life.

Shreve Stockton didn’t like to cook. Well, that might not be strong enough. She flat out didn’t cook. But she became extremely sick and the cure was eating gluten-free. Hello kitchen. This cooking-phobe not only learned to cook; just a short time later she wrote and published a cookbook. Meet “Eating Gluten Free: Delicious Recipes and Essential Advice for Living Well without Wheat and Other Problematic Grains.” Diagnosed while living in San Francisco, she now lives in rural Wyoming.

The recipes in her book are generally simple and straightforward so they should be good for both beginners and those more used to the kitchen. Shreve covers everything from breakfast through lunch, dinner and dessert. And I can vouch for the macaroons below. (So can everyone who ate them: my husband – who loved them and honestly didn’t want to share but did anyway, a co-worker of his with a sweet tooth, and my mother-in-law – a woman who knows her sweets.)

Shreve and Charlie (Used with permission. From “The Daily Coyote.”)
Spend some time with Shreve as she talks about her interesting journey.

When you first learned you had to eat gluten-free, there weren’t any plates in your cupboards, and your oven was being used as a handy storage area. Many who’ve been diagnosed can relate to your situation. What steps did you take to learn not only to cook but cook gluten-free?

It was trial by error. I did not have the time or money to take cooking classes, and was so frustrated by the few gluten-free cookbooks that were on the market at that time – this was 2004. They were so complicated and unhealthy – one bread recipe used 7-Up as an ingredient! No thank you! So, at night, when I’d come home from working on the docks all day, I’d experiment in the kitchen. Sometimes, my experiments were failures, and I’d cry, but sometimes they turned out wonderful, delicious, healthy staples that I use to this day. I learned to look at it less like a chore and more like an opportunity to be creative. That helped my learning curve and my attitude.

Did you immediately buy everything you needed – pots, pans, flours, etc.? Or did you fill your cupboards with essentials more slowly?

Slowly – I’m still in the process, actually. I just got a microplane a few months ago (love it!). No one NEEDS five different baking pans – sure, it’s handy, but one 9×9 pan can cover a lot of ground. I don’t have a fancy stand mixer and generally mix everything with a spoon by hand. People have been cooking for centuries without all the gadgets that we might think are essential. I try to keep a stash of flours at this point, but when I started out and was living in the city, I would buy flours as needed from the bulk section – easier on the budget and handy during the period when you’re learning which gluten-free flours you like and which you don’t really like. [EGFL Note: some experts advise not using bulk products because of possible cross-contamination.]

Is there a dish or two that you’d recommend a beginning cook make first to build confidence?

Stew!  A lentil/veggie stew or a beef stew is a fantastic place to start. A) it’s impossible to screw up. B) it lasts for several days with no additional work. C) it’s very inexpensive and also healthy and satisfying.

I suspect that not all of your attempts at cooking were successful. It’s reassuring when we’re learning something new to discover that someone else has been there. Could you give a couple of examples of cooking or baking attempts that didn’t work the first time?

Oh, I so vividly remember opening the oven and discovering that my biscuits were hockey pucks, like not even possible to bite through…. It was agony – I was working 12 hour days doing manual labor at the time and so, so poor, and here I had just spent two hours cooking in the middle of the night plus the money for the ingredients and had nothing to show for it!  It was devastating. But the failures added to my stores of knowledge and were helpful in the long run. But even knowing that doesn’t make anyone feel better in the moment!

I doubt you immediately thought “I’m going to learn to cook and write a cookbook” but within a couple of years you had. At what point did you realize you wanted to write one?

It was actually about six months after making the switch to gluten-free. I was having great success in the kitchen and feeling better than I’d ever felt in my life, and was also navigating all the psychological/emotional/social issues that crop up with the switch. I wrote the book that I wished I had had to help me through that first difficult period, which for some is four months, for others one year, it varies.

You lived in San Francisco when you first went gluten-free then moved to New York City. You could find most if not all gluten-free supplies locally. You’re now living in a tiny town in Wyoming (and authoring the blog, “The Daily Coyote.” How is living a gluten-free life different in these two very different locations?

Actually I moved from SF to Wyoming (I had planned to move back to NYC but Wyoming stole my heart!). I’m glad I started my gluten-free life in SF. I could walk to the health food store every few days and get bits of this and bits of that to try and to experiment with, and had tons of produce from the farmer’s markets to feast on. And I didn’t have New York pizza joints torturing me at every corner – oh, that would have been SO hard!  Here in Wyoming, it’s an hour round-trip drive to the grocery store and so one has to plan ahead. It would have been hard to learn in these conditions. Most of the gluten-free items I use I order in bulk online every month or two.

If you were to write another gluten-free cookbook today, I imagine you’d include new equipment and/or foods you didn’t know about then. Is there anything new that’s become essential to your gluten-free life?

This is probably the opposite direction of what you might expect, but I now love to cook on and in a woodstove. Lasagna baked in a woodstove is beyond compare!  I love making stews on my woodstove in the fall and winter, and cooking in the coals of an open fire outside in the summer. It’s a great skill to know; I think if I wrote another cookbook I’d have to include a bit about cooking with fire, without the assistance of electricity or propane.

Did you get to a point where you were happy with what you’d learned about cooking so stopped trying new things or are you still exploring in that once unfamiliar room with a stove?

Always trying new things, always!  In cooking, and in all realms of life!


2 ½ cups shredded coconut
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons gluten-free flour*
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the coconut, sugar, salt, and flour together. In a separate bowl, froth up the egg whites with a fork. Add the vanilla to the egg whites, then stir into the coconut mixture. Drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

*“Most gluten-free flours are suitable for this recipe: sorghum, millet, tapioca, rice, premixed flours – use your favorite, or whatever you have around. Avoid corn, soy, garbanzo, and quinoa, however, as their flavors are too powerful.”

I used tapioca flour and unsweetened coconut – which seems to be much drier than the sweetened. It drank the liquid, reminding me of coconut flour, so I added an extra egg white and everything was great. My husband had been asking for chocolate chip cookies so I added some chips to about half and those were the clear winners. I’m making the chocolate chip version for a cookie exchange party I’m hosting this weekend, my first since I went gluten-free.

Update: I made the macaroons for the cookie exchange but made them with a small cookie scoop instead of the larger one I’d used on the earlier batch. In the smaller version, they don’t have as much of the soft inside to the baked outside. I really liked that about the bigger cookies so, from now on, I’ll make them with the larger scoop. (I’ve only been using cookie scoops for a couple of years and love how easy they make cookie baking.)

(Recipe used with permission from Shreve Stockton. “Eating Gluten Free: Delicious Recipes and Essential Advice for Living Well without Wheat and Other Problematic Grains”) (I have to state that if you click on the Amazon link below and buy this cookbook, I receive money.)