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!

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