Archive for Gluten-Free Blogger

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger – Gluten Free Easily

Shirley from Gluten Free Easily

AGFB - GFE 005 Blog

When I was first diagnosed, I searched for recipes and found Shirley’s blog, Gluten Free Easily. Something about her posts made her seem friendly so, when I wanted to create my own blog, she was one of the first people I contacted and asked to be part of it. The second post on my blog is an itnerview with Shirley and a review of her Magic Oat Bars so I’m no stranger to her recipes. I’ve made those bars several times and they always make my sweets loving husband happy. When she posted her Black Magic Bars last summer, I made them that day, substituting pecans for the black walnuts she’d used. Once again, I knew my husband would love them and he did.

Shirley’s type of cooking, what she calls GFE, is based on naturally gluten-free foods but she mixes in some mainstream products that happen to be gluten-free and some, but not too many, of the pricier gluten-free specialty products. Her attitude is always down to earth and she makes you feel like you’ve found a friend when you spend time reading her posts.

For the adoption, I made her Big and Rich Brownies. They’ve been on my must-try list for a long time. They not only sound good but every time I go through her list of recipes, the name jumps from the page for an unusual reason.* I made the recipe with Better Batter and the result is a dense, chocolatey brownie which received husband approval.

Spend some time on Shirley’s blog and try a recipe or two. I think you’ll be glad you did.


*When I first moved to Nashville, Music City U.S.A., I worked publicity for a concert. It was pro bono so don’t get visions of grandeur :) I’m a writer so becoming a publicist and setting up radio interviews for performers was new to me. I had to learn the difference between an in-studio and a phoner. (It seems obvious as I write this but an in-studio is an interview in the studio and a phoner’s on the phone.) I didn’t know much about country music but had to get up to speed quickly. The host of this concert for charity was Big Kenny Alphin of the popular country music group Big and Rich. Hense the connection with Shirley’s brownies. (I’ll have a name dropper moment here with some of the other performers for the concert – Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley, Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down.) I had my music moment with this concert and decided that was enough. Here’s a photo from the concert’s press conference – left to right – two of the lost boys of Sudan, Big Kenny and his wife.

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.

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger – Relish SCD

Breakfast and a Snack 

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger is a fun little push to make a recipe or two from a blog, maybe something you’ve had on your must-try list. This month, Alta from Tasty Eats at Home is guest hosting while the originator of the event, Sea from Book of Yum, is in Japan working on her dissertation. Please note that this isn’t just for bloggers, anyone can make a recipe from a blog and join in.

Browsing through blogs, I came upon Relish SCD and liked what I saw. She’s on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) but don’t let that scare you away if you’re eating a regular gluten-free diet. You’ll find naturally gluten-free recipes on an SCD site because the diet is grain-free and, if you’ve wanted to cut back on refined sugar, you’ll also find that honey and fruit are the only sweeteners. This blogger is on the diet to heal her Crohn’s Disease.

The bowl at the top of the page looks like it’s filled with Hot Cereal and it really tasted like it was. It’s actually a porridge made from almond flour, sprinkled with raisins with honey drizzled over it. It was easy to make and so tasty that I had it again today for breakfast. She said to add cooked raisins at the end but I just threw them in at the beginning and added a little more water to make up for what they would absorb. I also walked away with the mixture for a few minutes at a time – not stirring it constantly as she said to – and it was fine.

Now, I have to say that this next photo isn’t the prettiest one I’ve even taken. In her recipe for Crunchy Butternut Squash Chips, she says that those that look burned taste good. They are quite good. Even though she said to leave the skin on the butternut squash, I peeled mine. I know it’s edible but it weirded me out. :)

I brought out my seldom used mandolin and sliced the chips very thin. I learned that they have to be as thin as possible and have to at least have brown on them to be flavorful. My husband – who doesn’t love veggies as much as I do – thought they were acceptable. (Trust me, that’s high praise for a vegetable.) I think I’ll sprinkle on some herbs and spices next time to give them a kick.

If you explore Relish SCD, you’ll probably find what I did, that her recipes tend to be made from ingredients that are already in your kitchen. I had everything including the squash.

Journey on over there and check it out!

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger – Roost

Adopting Caitlin from Roost

I’ve been an admirer of Roost for some time, stopping by to see new recipes and always being in awe of her photographs. But I hadn’t tried her recipes and knew now was the time to change that. Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger gives bloggers (and non-bloggers) the opportunity to “adopt” another blog by making a recipe or two and writing about it.

She and her husband started eating the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to  help both of them with digestive issues but particularly because her husband had Crohn’s disease with “a significant amount of inflamation in his colon and large intestine” and they were looking for a more natural solution. Two years after beginning the diet, he was healed to the the point that he successfully stopped taking his prescrption drugs.

I chose to make Caitlin’s Harvest Cake because it’s filled with shredded zucchini, carrots and apple, all foods both my husband and I enjoy. She mentioned that it could be made as muffins so I did and made the recipe exactly as written (not easy for me), using coconut oil as the fat. I didn’t make the frosting but will have to and soon because it sounds delicious. The muffins – which turned out delicious – and a zucchini and fresh basil frittata gave us a tasty beginning last Saturday. I also found that the muffins were the exception to my hot out of the oven is best rule. When they were cool, the flavors melded and they were even better.

Caitlin is a freelance food stylist and photographer for national publications such as Cooking Light and Southern Living so I felt some a fair amount huge pressure when it came to photographing these muffins. :)

Danielle Walker of Against All Grain

Deliciously Grain-Free

Danielle seems to have a gift for creating grain-free recipes that aren’t just healthy, they’re beautiful to look at and taste delicious too. When she recently came up with her grain-free bread, she set a new standard. I made her amazing Almond Flour Zucchini Bread. (Photo below)

Danielle shared her story and a bit about her recipes.

Q & A:

Q: Please describe how changing your diet changed your health.

A: I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease, when I was 22 years old. After a few years of suffering, multiple hospitalizations, and doctors telling me that what I ate wasn’t a factor in my disease, I decided to take matters into my own hands and drastically change my diet. We already ate fairly healthy and stayed away from processed food, but it was clear that big changes needed to be made. It was a gradual process for me and I eliminated things along the way as I learned what my body needed. I started by going off all“white” foods – white sugar, white flour, white rice, potatoes etc. I switched to whole-wheat pastas and flours and used alternative sweeteners. After a few months of doing this and not noticing a difference I went gluten-free, changing our diet again to eliminate wheat and incorporate more brown rice, gluten-free oats, and quinoa.

I had another large flareup while experimenting with this diet, and was handed a copy of the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” which was written to help those with Crohn’s, Colitis, Celiac, and Autism. Essentially the diet written in the book is free of all grains, refined sugar, and lactose. It’s called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (or SCD) and has proven to cure people with IBD and Autism after strictly following the diet for a couple of years then gradually reintroducing certain foods back into your diet. It took me a couple of months to mentally prepare to completely change the way I knew how to cook and eat, but after being hospitalized again and near death, I decided it was my last alternative to surgery

While I wish I could say I’ve been completely healthy and in remission since starting to eat the way I do, I cannot. I do feel much better overall and have have much improved gut function, fewer migraines, less overall stomach upset and higher energy (even with a toddler!), I feel like I am still learning what the exact combination of diet, supplements, and medications my body still needs, but things have improved so much since I was diagnosed 5 years ago.

Q: Do you ever have to give up on a recipe? Is there something you’ve tried and couldn’t figure out? Or do you always keep at it until you do?

A: I’m a bit of a perfectionist with a Type-A personality, so giving up feels like failing to me. Stress contributes greatly, though, to my disease, so I have had to work hard at finding a balance in the kitchen. There are some people that de-stress by working out or cleaning the house, but I love creating and perfecting recipes. Things don’t always turn out like I hope they will, and there are definitely recipes that I’ve had to make dozens of times to get it just right. (For instance, my grain-free sandwich bread.) It just feels like such an accomplishment when I’m able to share food with people that I’m truly proud of. I have now amassed a collection of over 125 grain-free recipes and publish two to three new ones a week, so the collection is ever growing!

Q: You have a long list of recipes on your blog. How do you decide what recipes to try making? (Is it something you remember from pre-SCD, a food you see and want to duplicate, what’s in season, etc.?)

A: Most of my inspiration comes from things that I used to eat, or things that I wish I could order when we go out to eat. I like to try to recreate them so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. And most of the time, I think my rendition is better than the original! There’s just something to be said about real, fresh ingredients rather than the processed things that are so readily accessible to us. I also love perusing food websites and seeing what kind of recipes the general public like to see and pushing myself to see if I can make something that tastes and looks the same. Oh and I love tricking people! It’s fun serving guests something that they think is an ordinary plate of waffles or chocolate cream pie and then telling them it’s grain-free and dairy-free!

Q: You frequently combine almond flour and coconut flour. Do you find this improves the texture or is there another reason?

A: I think the biggest problem people on restricted diets face is boredom, and I was getting bored with the flavor and texture of almond flour. That’s why you have seen a lot of recipes using both coconut and almond flours, or some without almond flour at all. I was never happy with the slightly soggy consistency a lot of almond flour recipes seem to produce, and the ones with solely coconut flour had too much of an egg taste for me. I still have quite a few recipes using only almond flour (my Almond Flour Zucchini Bread is one of my favorites) but I think that coconut and almond are a match made in heaven. The almond flour seems to add the texture and substance of a grain while the coconut flour helps to soak up the extra fat and liquid the almond flour produces, making them a little more lightly and fluffy. And I love that it doesn’t taste like coconut, because I surprisingly don’t really like the taste! I also like the calorie and fat ratio that you get when you combine them. A lot of people forget that while almonds are extremely healthy, they still have a lot of calories in them. Eating an almond flour muffin is much higher in calories than other flours, so subbing in the coconut flour for some of it helps reduce that and also adds a healthy serving of fiber.

Q: What do you enjoy most about having a blog?

A: I started my blog about three years ago after going off grains and feeling like there was a lack of recipes out there for the lifestyle. I was enjoying experimenting with all of my new ingredients like almond and coconut flour, and wanted to share what I was learning with others like me. My main goal is to provide recipes to those on a restricted diet and leave them feeling satisfied and happy rather than deprived. And, now that I’m a mom, I love sharing stories about my life with my son as well. It’s a great outlet and hobby for me after spending an entire day chasing him around!

I would have to say the most rewarding part about running the blog is the feedback from my readers. It makes my day when I get a comment that someone liked something or even just the simple comments thanking me for what I do. I find so much joy in creating the recipes and sharing them, so it’s so nice to hear that I’ve brought joy to someone else’s kitchen or dinner table. I also feel like I’ve taken a really negative situation such as having a life-long disease and spun it to be a positive one, where I am able to help others that are suffering work towards the road to health. I receive multiple emails a week from young women my age who struggle with Crohn’s, Celiac, or UC that are just looking for someone like them to talk to and let them know that life isn’t over, that they can still enjoy food, or the biggest one: that they can likely still have children. I scoured the internet for hours upon hours when I was first diagnosed and emailed people much like the emails I’m receiving now. I just never realized that my story would impact people, particularly women my age.

Thank you Danielle for sharing your story and your time with us!


I found quite a few recipes on Danielle’s site that I wanted to make. I really wanted to make her new bread but didn’t have enough cashew butter (an order is on its way) so it will have to wait.

I’m so glad I chose to make the recipe I did. Without exaggerating, this is the best almond flour baked good I’ve ever made. I’ve had many that I enjoyed but Danielle somehow made these taste like regular flour, not almond flour. The amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg are perfect. I made the recipe as muffins and we had them with breakfast.

Almond Flour Zucchini Bread

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger Roundup June 2012

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger

This event is the brain-child of Sea Maiden at Book of Yum. She’s in Japan right now working on her dissertation while still being mom to a preschooler. She’s busy. Very busy. Several of us offered to host during the summer months.

I love reading through these posts because I’m introduced to bloggers I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before and I get to read about what others have made for the event and enjoyed. 

The dips that Valerie from City-Life-Eats made from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen both look delicious. When Valerie says the Creamy Herb Sunflower Dip Dressing has a mouth-feel that reminds her of cream, she’s speaking to me. I have to give it a try.



The Caramel Dip for Apples just sounds like fun. I’ll have to give it a try when the fall crop of apples starts coming in.


Rachel from The Crispy Cook also made two recipes, these from the low-carb, gluten-free blog of an opera singer - Until The Thin Lady Sings. Blueberry Lemon Bars with stevia are a great combination of flavors and, with no sugar, I may have to give them a try.



The other recipe she made is Coconut Flour Cheese Biscuits. I’ve made a similar biscuit before but not with all of the seasoning that this one has. It should be a show-stopper.


Dawn from Cuter Than Gluten made Gluten-Free Easily’s Coconut Blueberry Pound Cupcakes then turned them into Cookie Monster cupcakes with her own frosting on top. They’re adorable and Dawn says the taste of the cupcakes truly is like pound cake.



Heather from Gluten-Free Cat adopted Hunter’s Lyonesse and made some cookies that I put on my must make list as soon as I saw them. Grain-Free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free, these Flourless Pumpkin Pie Cookies will be a great addition to my list of recipes this fall when pumpkins seem to be for sale on every corner.

Alta from Tasty Eats at Home adopted Hope for Healing and also made two recipes. The Blueberry Cornbread is a slightly sweet version of an old favorite that Alta’s family enjoyed.

The maple syrup and cinnamon in the Cashew Summer Granola she also made gave it nice a pop of flavor.

Sunny of And Love It Too made Diet, Dessert and Dogs’ Easy No-Cook, Grain-Free Breakfast Porridge and says it reminds her of Cream of Wheat. I have to try this. No-cook and grain-free makes the recipe defy logic but I love the ingredients in it and it looks – and Sunny tells us is - delicious.

The Watermelon-Basil Cooler Sunny also made is a great – and refreshing - choice now that there’s an abundance of watermelons that are now in stores and soon will be in farmer’s markets in our area. (I haven’t seen any yet.)




I wrote about Alta from Tasty Eats at Home. With all of the fresh peaches available right now, I felt compelled to try a couple of her peach recipes. (She has more.)

I think of scones as a good breakfast food and her Peach Macadamia Scones definitely fit that description. Moist and soft like a big cookie, they were a treat. (Who doesn’t think a big cookie for breakfast is a good thing?) As a matter of fact, I froze some and had them with my breakfast this morning. My husband, a huge fan of peaches, has particularly enjoyed her Creamy Peach Popsicles. Picture a luscious frozen peach with a hint of creaminess and you have these popsicles.

 Thanks to all who joined in! Want to be part of it next time? Bloggers and non-bloggers alike should check out July’s event which will be hosted by Sunny at And Love It Too. August will be hosted by Alta from Tasty Eats at Home.


Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger – Tasty Eats at Home

Adopting Alta from Tasty Eats at Home

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger allows everyone (even if you aren’t a blogger) to make a recipe or recipes from a blog then share a photo of the result. It isn’t easy to single out one blog, but after browsing through the recipes on Tasty Eats at Home, I knew I would enjoy trying some of her recipes.

That list of recipes is long and impressive, often a a bit exotic: Gluten-Free Turtle Soup, Shrimp Cauliflower Curry and Grilled Shark Steak. But some are homey favorites: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread, vegan Strawberry “Cheesecake” with Almond-Macadamia Crust and Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Coconut “Buttercream” Frosting. And sometimes on her blog the exotic meets the homey: Shepherd’s Pie with Pumpkin Souffle, Minty Bison Meatballs and Peach Hatch Chile Cobbler.

Alta is like many of you; she works outside the home, then comes home and creates a healthy meal for dinner. Starting in 2009, when health issues were suspected to be linked to gluten, those meals became gluten-free, then a year later also dairy-free.

As I searched through her gluten and dairy-free recipes, I thought about what I wanted to make now. When I noticed some delicious looking peach recipes, I knew what to do. We’re starting to get sweet, juicy peaches here in Tennessee, and peach season is so fleeting that I wanted to embrace it with a Tasty Eats at Home peach extravaganza.

I first made her Peach Macadamia Scones. I did change the agave to honey (we do better with that) and didn’t have macadamia’s so had to sub another nut. I chose pecans. Next time I’ll make sure I have the macadamia’s – I think their mello flavor was the right pick. Like Alta, I’m used to a scone that’s dry. This one is soft and, to me, like a big cookie. A big, soft, healthy cookie - or two – for breakfast is a good idea and may make the world a better place.

My husband adores peaches so the next recipe was a no-brainer in the Brown home: Creamy Peach Popsicles. Popsicles filled with frozen peach and coconut milk are something kids will enjoy but are also a great grown-up treat. I can envision serving these as a fun dessert at a BBQ. Her recipe makes 6 popsicles, and the mold I use is for 4 so I made 2/3 of a recipe.

When you're married to someone who's comfortable on stage, you just don't know what you'll get when you ask him to pose with a popsicle. (My husband, Larry)

Here he is eating and enjoying the popsicle – and looking more sane :)

There are several months of peach season left so I’m pretty certain Alta’s Peach Cupcakes with Peachy Cream Frosting will make it onto our table before the air turns cool. They’re fruit-sweetened and that really intrigues me. Larry’s just in it for the taste.

Thank you, Alta, for taking the time to make and share your recipes!

Linda Etherton of The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Making a Gluten-Free House a Home

We all know that taking care of three kids is a busy job; turn that into a gluten-free home and life gets more interesting. Linda Etherton’s blog,, has been a favorite stop of mine for a long time. She offers up real recipes with foods you’ll find at your local grocery store, with the exception of some of the gluten-free flours.

Linda’s boys are almost grown: one’s in college, another’s going this fall – both attending a nearby university but living at home – and a third’s just a few years from college. Her oldest son is gluten intolerant and she has celiac disease so this is a woman who knows gluten-free. I had Linda’s Almond Meal Pancakes for breakfast (see photo below) and enjoyed the touch of cinnamon she added.

My favorite line from her blog: “I never apologize for serving gluten-free food because the food I make tastes great!”

Q & A:

You were diagnosed 12 years ago. How has your diet evolved during these years?

I started out eating very basic meals with meat, potatoes or rice, and vegetables. I cooked a whole chicken and vegetables in the crock pot and made instant mashed potatoes once a week for a number of months as my body healed and I was learning the ropes of the diet. The only reason I used instant potatoes was that I was still very weak from lack of nutrients due to my intestinal damage.

I soon branched out and began trying different types of gluten-free pasta. The choices back then were not as good, but there were choices and spaghetti was another easy meal.

Once I got my strength back, I was eager to begin baking and finding gluten-free versions of our favorite muffins, cakes and cookies. I have almost always made gluten-free birthday cakes for my kids because I will not bake with wheat flour. Both my kids and their friends have always enjoyed the cakes.

I used to make a lot of casseroles which used creamed soups. I wasn’t sure what to do when I couldn’t eat those soups any more. Then I discovered Mexican casseroles which were a whole new thing for my family and everyone liked them. I also learned to make creamed soup from scratch which is better than store bought anyway. However, once I stopped being so dependent on it, I didn’t use it as much anyway.

In many ways I learned to cook all over again, only this time I was paying more attention to the ingredients in the foods I ate, and I was motivated to be creative.

You say that everything you cook or bake is gluten-free. You’re the only celiac and one son is gluten intolerant. How do you make gluten-free food work for the rest of your family?

My kids were young when I started eating gluten free. I served them gluten-free pasta and that was their only choice, so they got used to it. The pasta also got better. I serve it to guests now too, and while they notice a difference, they think it is good.

As for the other food I cook or bake, I won’t settle for food that doesn’t taste good. I have my failures when I’m experimenting, but anything that is a regular part of our menu tastes good. My kids all agree and so do friends and family. Sometimes the gluten eaters in the family are jealous when I reserve certain foods for me and my gluten-free son.

You also bring in regular products for everyone but you and and your son. How do you separate gluten-free and gluten in your home?

My kids learned quickly that crumbs make Mom sick. The main cooking area of my kitchen is gluten free. Gluten containing foods are stored in a portable cabinet in the eat in part of the kitchen. Any sandwiches are prepared there. In a previous house where the kitchen was smaller, the gluten food was kept in the dining room.

The refrigerator is mostly gluten free. Anything that is not gluten-free, my gluten-free son is old enough to know that it’s not for him. We do have separate condiments. The gluten-free jars and bottles are labeled GF.

What is your favorite gluten-free meal?

Honestly, I really enjoy pizza. Now that I am cow dairy free (my gluten free son is too), I use either Daiya cheese substitute or goat cheese. It’s still one of my favorite foods. While my homemade gluten-free pizza is different than wheat flour pizza, it is still very good, and all my guys enjoy it. It’s one of those foods where the gluten eaters wish they could have the leftovers, but they are reserved for the gluten-free eaters.

Thank you Linda!

Almond Meal Pancakes 



These were tasty slathered in butter (actually Earth Balance Coconut Spread) and real maple syrup for today’s breakfast and, the good news is, I have enough left over for tomorrow’s breakfast. I skipped the sugar in the recipe, as I often do, so I could drench the pancakes with syrup and have a clear conscience :) For those new to almond flour, I find it a hearty texture somewhere between cornmeal and whole wheat. If you aren’t cooking these in a non-stick pan, as I did not, make sure you generously oil the pan because almond flour can stick. 


Megan from Maid in Alaska

Making Allergy-Free Foods for Kids

Megan Ancheta of Wasilla, Alaska, makes delicious food for her two girls, ages 3 and 7 then shares those recipes with her happy readers on Maid in Alaska. I’m originally from nearby Anchorage, Alaska, so I became intrigued by her familiar Alaskan touches like moose in her yard. Then I started cooking her food. A friend described her Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites as “like an Almond Joy” then told me I should make them for my annual Christmas cookie party. (See my cookie photo below)

Megan shares the story of her girls’ allergies and how she helps them live with those allergies. She also gives great information about how to get any kid to eat more healthy food.

Q: How did you learn what foods your two girls had problems with? 

A: Both girls were lactose intolerant as infants, but Abbi started having severe emotional outbursts and constant diarrhea shortly after she was a year old. I suspected a sensitivity to gluten and bought it up to my pediatrician. In not so many words, my pediatrician thought I was crazy and told me, “I had no idea what a gluten-free diet consisted of.” (This was after I had already been gluten free for over a year for my own health issues, so I absolutely knew what a gluten-free diet consisted of!) I left the appointment upset and angry (she is no longer our pediatrician).

Shortly after the appointment with our pediatrician I took Abbi to see my naturopathic doctor, Dr. Amy Chadwick at Soaring Crane Clinic in Palmer, AK. Dr. Amy listened to me describe Abbi’s symptoms and agreed Abbi probably did have a gluten sensitivity. Within a few short weeks of removing gluten from Abbi’s diet there were HUGE improvements, but she continued to have some minor problems. Dr. Amy then recommended removing corn from Abbi’s diet, so we did and it was just what was needed to bring Abbi back to being “normal.” The diarrhea stopped and Abbi was back to being a happy, sweet little girl instead of having an erratic, unpredictable “Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde-like” personality.

Kylie was diagnosed with psoriasis when she was 4 years old. Over time we tried eliminating various foods from her diet and came to the conclusion gluten, corn, and dairy were all psoriasis triggers for her.

Q: How have you helped them understand that they shouldn’t eat certain foods?

A: Teaching Kylie what she can and cannot eat has been fairly easy, Abbi, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. It is much easier to teach an older child that grasps explanations and questions like, “If we allow you to eat that, your psoriasis will break out. Do you remember how miserable and itchy you were the last time you had a psoriasis patch? Do you really want that to happen again?”

It is difficult teaching Abbi what she can and cannot eat simply because of her age, so we have started with very simple explanations like, “Abbi, you can’t have that, baby, because it will make you sick.” Or “that has gluten in it; you can’t have it because gluten makes you sick.” Eventually she will begin to understand. 

Q: Your oldest is in school now. How do you make sure she doesn’t eat problem foods?

Kylie is homeschooled, so eating problem foods in school isn’t an issue; however, there are other settings (like Sunday school, vacation Bible school, soccer games) we have to be concerned about. We always tell Kylie that if someone offers her food she very politely needs to tell them, “No thank you; I can’t eat that, I have allergies.” It’s a simple explanation that others (especially adults) understand.

Q: How do you make their lives feel “normal?”

I feel like this question ties in to question #4 so well. We never go anywhere without snacks or food. I always carry Larabars, nuts, trailmix, crackers, or a special allergy friendly treat in my purse that the girls can have so they never feel left out.

When it comes to birthday parties or special events, I always bring our own food. If I have time in advance, I try to make a treat similar to what is being served at the party. If I don’t have enough time to make something I tell the girls, “Momma doesn’t have enough time to make you cupcakes to eat at the party, so we are going to swing by the grocery store to pick up a special treat you can have (like dairy free ice cream, Pamela’s Mini-Snaps or Kinnikinnick Amimal Crackers).” As long as my girls have something special to replace what they can’t have they are happy.  

Q: You aren’t just eliminating certain allergens in your home, you’re also trying to feed your children healthy food. What foods don’t you allow in your home? What foods do you especially encourage your kids to eat? (See her post – 10 Tips for getting children to eat healthier)

We absolutely do not allow soda pop, juice (unless it is juice made out of real fruits and veggies from our juicer), store bought candy, processed foods, or any sort of foods with preservatives or artificial ingredients. 

We try to urge our girls to eat whole foods, but especially try to encourage them to eat organic veggies. Kylie and Abbi both have different veggies they refuse to eat (what kids doesn’t?), but overall they do fairly well, as long as they have a special homemade dip or sauce to dip their veggies in. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites


I love that these cookies are grain-free and sweetened with a small amount of honey or maple syrup (I used maple syrup) and stevia which she says is optional. I also made these with toasted, chopped pecans. My husband preferred the cookies with the pecans, I preferred the original recipe.

Thank you Megan!

Gluten-Free at College with Celiacs in the House

Higher Learning, Gluten-Free Style

Wendy is now the editor of the new magazine Simply Gluten Free. She has shut down her blog so links to it no longer work but the information in this article is definitely still worth reading.

Wendy Gregory Kaho of Celiacs in the House has two children who went off to college last year. From their experiences, both good and not-so-good, she’s become, I suspect unexpectedly, an expert in eating gluten-free at college.

Wendy’s “Gluten-Free College” page has some great links to articles and other information including this publication from Celiac Central that includes an interview with Wendy’s college student daughter.

My husband is a college professor. We used to eat at the school cafeteria quite often but since being diagnosed we haven’t tried. I realize now that we need to try and perhaps pave the way for a student living on campus who needs gluten-free and can’t easily eat elsewhere. So this is for myself and for all of you with gluten-free students who are about to go off to college.

Q & A:

Q: Should a college be chosen then contacted to check their level of understanding about making gluten-free foods, or should students and parents only consider schools known for doing gluten-free well?

A: It certainly helps a lot to choose a college that does gluten-free well, but it really depends on the student. Are they motivated enough to do the extra to work required to feed themselves safely or are they better in an environment where eating safely is easy and they don’t have to think about it?

Q: Not all colleges are equal in their gluten-free setup. The photo on your blog of Ohio Wesleyan’s GF station shows a school that’s doing it well. Please describe the range of gluten-free services that are available in colleges.

A: It really is a range of no accommodation to extravagantly and safely gluten free. That really is the dilemma for students and parents. There are places that get gluten free and do it right and schools that have no accommodation or a poor understanding of special diets of any kind.

Q: What questions need to be asked and arrangements made before the student arrives at school?

A: Make a list of questions and be very precise and focused in asking them and evaluating the answers (see list here). Watch the dining hall in action and even find a gluten-free student at the school and tag along as they eat to get the best feel for how the dining service operates and to see if you and your child feel safe. After our experiences last fall with both kids starting different colleges, I recommend really immersing yourself and your child in the dining hall experience like this to know for sure how it’s going to work. (The link leads to some great articles written by Wendy.)

Q: How should the student follow up when he or she is there to make sure the food is gluten-free?

A: Know your symptoms and watch carefully for signs of accidental gluten exposure. Our son had been so safe at home and as a homeschooled kid, that he had no clue that his symptoms were feeling like he had the flu all the time with body aches and fatigue, brain fog and low grade depression. Not everyone with celiac has those classic digestive symptoms and those who don’t have to be extra alert and careful.

Q: What’s your favorite tip for a celiac/gluten intolerant who is going off to college in the next year or two?

A: Before going off to school you need to build your independent living skills like cooking, shopping, reading labels and also getting your health in the best shape you can with healthy eating habits. Living at college whether in the dorms or off campus, you will be stressed, exposed to large groups of people and all kinds of challenges to your immune system. Be strong when you get there and stay strong with good self-care. There will be all kinds of temptations to cheat on your diet with pizza and drink beer to go with that pizza. My kids were both shocked with the cheating that goes on with other gluten-free students in the college environment. Students and parents need to talk seriously about those challenges and how to cope with them. Decide before you go if you will be drinking and if it is your plan not to abstain, know what is safe. Try to plan ahead with your own gluten-free treats, so you aren’t swept up in the pizza party scene and try to surround yourself with friends who support you.

As always, when I interview a blogger, I also make one of their recipes. I made, and enjoyed, Wendy’s:

Quinoa, Chickpea and Zucchini Salad

This salad is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and vegan. Wendy offered a choice of pomegranate or red wine vinegar in the recipe; I chose the red wine vinegar because I already had it. I also added some chopped, seeded tomato for color. This was my first use of ground chipotle pepper so I have to thank her for a new flavor to add to future dishes.

I brought this on a picnic with a friend – where it was a hit – and to a vegetarian friend who was stripping wallpaper at her house and needed a power-packed lunch. Quinoa and chickpeas are a great protein combo. Then I ate the leftovers the next day. Delicious.

Thanks Wendy!