Monday, November 29, 2010

Glorious Gluten Free Snickerdoodles and Other Musings

These cookies represent a turning point for me.  Snickerdoodles were one of my favorite cookies as a child, back in the day when I knew of no other flour than the gobs of white wheat flour that populated a whole drawer in my mother's kitchen.  Flour, butter, eggs, sugar, with a hint of cream of tartar and cinnamon thrown in.  

Fast forward to a few years ago when I journeyed down the road of multiple packs of gluten free flours, binding agents, egg replacers, nondairy butter substitutes, and refined sugar alternatives.  At first, it made my head spin.  I had not yet discovered the plethora of gluten free blogs on the internet.  I made some really horrible creations.  Frustration and tears were not uncommon the first year.  If my story sounds familiar, things do get better.

Gradually, I learned through my mistakes.  I discovered the joys of cooking with coconut oil and figured out that certain flours, such as almond, teff, and oat were nutritionally dense and could sometimes stand on their own.  I learned how to take an existing recipe and substitute the ingredients that are okay for my family.

In this case, I started with the snickerdoodle recipe from the Gluten Free Homemaker, removed the dairy, sugar, vanilla and potato, adjusted the measurements, and it came out perfect the very first time.  I knew they were good when my husband (not usually a snickerdoodle fan) compared them to donut holes.  But for me, the real joy is seeing the wide smile spread across my son's face when he eats these cookies.  


1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (look for the red label for soy free), melted
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 large egg
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp date or coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.  Mix the melted earth balance, agave and egg in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, mix the sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda and xanthan gum.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with a fork.  In a small bowl, mix date or coconut sugar and cinnamon.  Form dough into walnut size balls, roll in the sugar/cinnamon mixture and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 9 to 10 minutes.  Makes one dozen.  Source:

Some hard to find ingredients can be purchased through Amazon:

Authentic Foods Sweet Rice Flour
Big Tree Farms SweetTree Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Blonde, 16-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 6)
Aunt Patty's Organic Date Sugar, 11-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gluten Free Breakfast Crepes - Take 2

Last February, I posted a recipe for breakfast crepes that have been a regular staple in my house.  Since that time, I have experimented with different flours, and have come up with another recipe that is both corn and potato free.

Here is my earlier recipe:


2 eggs
1 banana, sliced
1 1/8 cup nondairy vanilla milk
2 tsp coconut or vegetable oil
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Place wet ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until mixed.  Add dry ingredients and blend until smooth.  Heat nonstick frying pan over medium/high heat.  Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter onto hot greased pan (the pan must be hot enough for the batter to spread properly).  Tilt the pan so the batter spreads out.  Cook until lightly browned on bottom and flip.  Makes 6 to 9 crepes.  

Here is the new and improved version:


2 eggs
1 medium banana, sliced
3/4 cup nondairy milk
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup gluten free oat flour (or sweet rice flour)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Place wet ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until mixed.  Add dry ingredients and blend until smooth.  Heat nonstick frying pan over medium/high heat.  Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter onto hot greased pan (the pan must be hot enough for the batter to spread properly).  Tilt the pan so the batter spreads out.  Cook until lightly browned on bottom and flip.  Makes 6 to 7 crepes.  

Friday, November 26, 2010

An Unusual Take on Cheesecake

This was written for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in April, 2010.

Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, sugar free:  those are your restrictions.  Your assignment:  to put together a delectable dessert for your child and his or her friends, who enjoy unrestricted diets.  Sweatin’ yet?  Read on, the answer is here.
Earth Café recently released raw, organic, vegan and gluten free cheesecake, made primarily from nuts and coconut.  Sweetened only with agave nectar, their cheesecake is rapidly filling natural food stores in the United States.  
I admit, I haven’t had regular cheesecake in a very long time due to my own dietary restrictions.  So when I had the opportunity to try some, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I sampled six flavors of cheesecake, with the help of my dessert loving husband, who regularly eats gluten filled desserts at work, and my son, who is gluten, dairy and sugar free, just like me.  What was remarkable is how all three of us loved the taste, restricted diet or not.  The flavors, Cherry Dream, Rockin’ Raspberry, Strawberry Fields Forever, Blueberry Hill, Who’s Your Daddy?, and Cali Style Lemon, were all unique and delicious.  The cheesecake has a nice creamy texture, and a slightly nutty taste.  The strong fruity flavors, lemon, raspberry, strawberry and cherry, were exceptional.  
In addition to great taste, this is cheesecake you can eat without feeling miserable afterwards.  An individually packaged slice of  Rockin’ Raspberry contains only 14 grams of sugar, and six grams of protein.  Although high in fat (30 grams per slice), this is good fat that comes from raw nuts and coconut, with no cholesterol.  
Finally, the cheesecake is as stunning to look at as it is delicious.  You can proudly present it to guests at a party and wow them with your healthy cheesecake.  Instead of stressing over how I’m going to please the children at my son’s upcoming birthday party this year, I’m looking forward to putting my feet up and ordering from Earth Café.  Check Earth Café’s website for a location near you, or order it online to be delivered directly to your door, frozen and packed in dry ice.  

Earth Café has given traditional cheesecake the ultimate makeover, providing a nutrient dense alternative for those who want delicious and healthy food, that also happens to be gluten free, sugar free and vegan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gluten Free Peanut Date Bars

Larabar is a line of snack bars made primarily of nuts and fruit, with some additional ingredients thrown in depending on the flavor you choose. Last year, when they released their “peanut butter cookie” flavor, that was it for me.  They really hit the spot and I couldn’t resist eating one every day (not advisable for someone with food sensitivities!).  One day, I looked at the ingredient label: peanuts and dates, and thought, how hard could these be to make?   Not hard at all, it turns out. And they taste better with fresh peanuts and dates.

Although I used roasted and salted peanuts in the following recipe, raw nuts contain healthier fats and are more appropriate for specific carbohydrate diets. Raw cashews would be a good substitute for people with an allergy or sensitivity to peanuts. These bars taste best after they’ve been in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.


2 ½ cups peanuts
2 ½ - ¾  cups dried pitted dates


Throw peanuts in a food processor and using the blade attachment, grind them until they have reached a fine texture. Meanwhile, chop 2 ½ cups of the dates by hand on a cutting board. This is necessary to make sure all the pits are removed, and will help ease the burden on your food processor. Add the dates to the peanuts and process until they are mixed well. This may take a few minutes. Taste and check the consistency. Add another ¼ cup dates if it's too crumbly or not sweet enough. Process until mixed well. Dump into an 8 inch by 8 inch glass pan and pack down with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Source:

This recipe is linked to Monday Mania.

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

This recipe was adapted from Chris Carmichael's Fitness Cookbook:  Delicious Recipes for Increased Fitness, Enhanced Health, and Weight Loss, which has many recipes that are naturally gluten and dairy free, or can be easily modified.  This is one of my go to recipes for potlucks.

For the pasta, I prefer Tinkyada rice pasta or Mrs. Leepers corn pasta, both of which taste best freshly made.   
Alaska Smokehouse carries gluten free smoked salmon and is available in some grocery stores.  Although lemon juice tastes best, if you can't tolerate lemon, lime juice is a decent substitute.  Add an extra tablespoon or two of lime juice and olive oil to the measurements below, according to your taste preference.


12 oz spiral or penne gluten free pasta
16 ounces Alaska Smokehouse smoked salmon, separated from skin and chopped
2 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with remaining ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4.  Source:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Soup with Anise and Candied Macadamia Nuts

This recipe was inspired by a recent dinner I had at Andina, a Peruvian restaurant in Portland, Oregon, that has plenty dairy and gluten free options, and absolutely delicious food.  The mouthwatering options are accompanied by wait staff that greet you with "Bienvenidos!" and reservations staff that ask if you have any allergies.  Reservations are a must.

I used raw macadamia nuts, but roasted are fine, too.  If you use roasted, skip the salt.


2 1/2 cups cooked sweet potato flesh
3 cups coconut milk (full fat)
1 tsp anise
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
1 tbsp agave nectar


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Coarsely chop macadamia nuts, mix with agave and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Spread out onto greased cookie sheet.  Cook for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  While the nuts are cooking, mix the sweet potato and coconut milk in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Pour into a saucepan and heat gently over medium heat, being careful not to scald the bottom.  Stir in anise and salt.  Adjust seasoning.  Pour into serving bowls when heated through and top with nuts.  Serves 2.  Source:

This recipe was submitted to the Sweet or Savory Kitchen Challenge Blog event at Affairs of Living and Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Other News:

Nutritionist Judy Converse has come out with a new book, Special-Needs Kids Go Pharm-Free, providing nutrition solutions for special-needs kids.  I know from personal experience that diet can be the deciding factor in whether a child will succeed in school, and grow physically and socially,  yet it is frequently overlooked by our medical community.  A recent study showed the use of antipsychotic drugs for privately insured kids, aged 2 through 5 in the United States, doubled between 1999 and 2007.   The long term implications for the health of these children is troubling.  Converse details nutrition solutions for a variety of conditions including asthma, ADD, depression, food allergy, autism, Down's syndrome, arthritis, growth failure, OCD, Crohn's disease and seizures.   Her last book, Special-Needs Kids Eat Right, was previously reviewed here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Move over Caesar: Meet the Cicero Salad

It's been ages since I had a real Caesar salad.  Salty anchovies mixed with cheesy parmesan in every bite, interrupted by the occasional crunch of a crouton.  Over a decade ago, my husband and I cooked frequently from Steven Raichlen's High-Flavor Low-Fat Vegetarian Cooking.  One of our favorite recipes, "Fishless Caesar Salad" was a regular staple in our house.  I recently revisited the recipe, this time removing the gluten, dairy and citrus.  It is still a big hit, even with the changes.  Unable to remember the taste of a true Caesar, I asked my husband (who has no dietary restrictions) if my salad can really be called a Caesar. Remembering back to the time he almost went skiing on the day of a quiz in his Ancient Rhetoric class, he suggested naming this salad "Cicero" after one of history's earliest recorded lawyers.  Like Caesar, Cicero was a Roman. A fiery orator, Cicero was nicknamed "the viper" for his sharp legal arguments.  This salad will make a biting substitute for those who can no longer enjoy the traditional Caesar salad.


For the Croutons:
(substitute salted, roasted sunflower seeds for an egg free alternative)
6 cups cubed crusty bread (I use Chebe)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves

For the Sauce:
1 cup water
4 sun dried tomatoes
4 kalamata olives, pitted and minced
2 tsp gluten free Dijon mustard
4 tbsp dairy free sour cream (WayFare brand is soy free)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice (for citrus free dissolve 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals in 2 tbsp water.  I use Nature's Life Pure C Crystals)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp Pickapeppa sauce
1/4 tsp salt

For the Salad:
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces

To prepare the croutons, cut each garlic clove in half.  Heat the olive oil over high heat and add garlic.  Once aromatic, turn heat down to medium and add bread.  Toss bread in olive oil and let sit.  Stir every five minutes or so, until bread is slightly browned and crunchy, for a total of about 30 minutes.

While bread is cooking, heat a cup of water to boiling and pour over sun dried tomatoes.  Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender.  Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, add other sauce ingredients.  When tomatoes are soft, mince them and add to the sauce.  Mix well.  Toss the sauce with the lettuce.  Top with croutons.  Serves 4. 

Traveling Gluten and Dairy Free in Kauai

This was originally posted in May, 2010.

My family and I traveled to one of the most beautiful places on earth last week - Hanalei Bay, Kauai.  The penetrating blues of the water, lush vegetation everywhere the eye can see, and soft sand leave you without a worry in the world.  The day before we began our vacation, I stopped by my local natural foods store looking longingly at the abundance of items we commonly use, and wondered what we would find on the island.

I packed a few items I thought would be hard to find, such as our favorite bread mixes, almond flour and 
Sonoma Teff Wraps, which can be used for a quick meal like a burrito or wraps filled with meat and vegetables.  I also packed homemade granola, for breakfast and snacks.  This basic recipe can be modified to adjust for various food sensitivities.


5 cups gluten free oats
1 cup each sliced almonds and cashews (use sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds for nut free)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)
1/2 cup raw honey (or agave, or maple syrup)
1 tbsp vanilla (or 2 tsp cinnamon)
1 cup dried cranberries (or banana chips, raisins, dried pineapple, or other dried fruit)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix oats and nuts (or seeds) together, and cinnamon, if using.  Add oil, honey and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Spread onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring twice during baking time to ensure even baking.  Remove from oven and cool.  Mix in dried fruit.  Store in airtight container.  For low salicylate diets, use canola oil, maple syrup, a mixture of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds in place of the almonds, and dried banana in place of the cranberries. Source:

According to the Hawaiian Airlines website, they do not accommodate special diets or allergies.  I didn't bother contacting them about food, and packed sandwiches, veggies and hummus, fruit and trail mix for our trip over.  Passengers are subject to agricultural inspection coming and going from Hawaii, and will be asked about fresh fruits and vegetables, plants and pets.  We ate our fresh stuff before we got there, and had no problem bringing in dried fruit and other food.

Our first priority upon arrival was dinner.  I had already done some scouting and read at 
Gluten Free Mom that Verde, a small hole in the wall New Mexican restaurant, served gluten free meals in Kapa'a, just a short ten minute drive from the airport.  The server said almost anything on the menu could be made gluten and dairy free.  All three of us loved our meals, and were surprised of the quality of the food for such an understated setting.  They use fresh, local ingredients, with wonderful homemade salsa and other spicy sauces for your meal. 

The staff at Verde were taught how to make their meals gluten free from the owner of 
Sweet Marie's, a dedicated gluten free bakery just down the road.   Sweet Marie's sells muffins, cookies and cakes, some of which are also dairy and soy free.

While in Kapa'a, you can pick up groceries at 
Papaya Natural Foods, Kauai's largest natural foods store.  There is also a Costco in Lihue.  As you travel north, there are two more natural foods stores:  the Healthy Hut in Kilauea and a satellite Papaya's Natural Foods in Hanalei.  In addition, Foodland in Princeville offers a small natural foods section, along with organic produce and Applegate Farms meats.  Better yet, get some locally grown produce at one of the many farmer's markets on the island.

My husband and I love the North Shore of Kauai, because it is so amazingly gorgeous and has some of the best scuba diving on the island.  There is so much do see and do, including hiking, boogie boarding, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful beaches.  The Hanalei Bay Resort, comprised of condominiums, has two swimming pools (lagoon style pictured above), tennis courts and beach access.  The beach is great for snorkeling and swimming, with Hanalei Beach Park Pavilion a short drive away for boogie boarding or surfing.

By some stroke of luck, we found the perfect condo, 
#1557 and 1558, at the incredible price of $129 per night.  It came with everything we needed for a comfortable stay:  great beds, a well equipped (although small) kitchen, air conditioning, washer and dryer, internet access, and nice televisions.  Our favorite part was the view off of the lanai of the nearby mountains and lush forest, which felt like our own private wildlife preserve teeming with birds and wildlife.

Our days were spent near the water, and by afternoon, we were ready for a cool treat at Aloha Juice Bar in the town of Hanalei.   Specializing in fruit smoothies, we sampled all of their flavors, with many tropical blended fruits to choose from.   Banana Joe's Fruit Stand in Kilauea offers smoothies as well, but is currently closed for renovations.

There are some other gluten free options we didn't have a chance to visit:

Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza, Kong Lung Center, 2484 Keneke St., Kilauea, 808.828.2020  This is not a dedicated gluten free establishment, but they do offer gluten free muffins, bagels and bread, along with some vegan cakes.

Postcards Cafe, Hanalei.  Serves dinner nightly at 6 p.m.  Specializes in organic, sugar free, natural foods with no meat except fish.  Vegan and gluten free options are available. 

Roy's, Poipu.  Roys does not have a gluten free menu, but will accommodate food allergies and sensitivities if you ask, including gluten, dairy, egg and nuts.

Papalani Gelato, Poipu Shopping Village.  At any given time, Papalani's has 12 flavors of freshly made gelato that are vegan, gluten free and nut free.  Some products are also sugar and soy free - just ask for clarification.  They also make gluten free gelato sandwiches and cakes, and vegan chocolates.  They emphasize local and organic ingredients.

Finally, if you really want to treat yourself, hire North Shore 
private chef AJ Deraspe, who can prepare gourmet vegan, gluten free and raw meals, using local, organic ingredients.  His mantra, from the soil to the soul, the food that we eat is much more than what's on the plate, reflects his passion for sustainably grown, healthy food.  He offers a variety of services, including catering, cooking classes, sustainable farm tours, nutrition workshops and more.  Contact him at 808.635.5865.

Asparagus with Ghee and Balsamic Vinegar

This was originally posted in March, 2010.

Fresh asparagus is appearing in the supermarket again, a sign that spring is just about here.  I used to cook a similar recipe out of Sunset Magazine using butter and soy sauce.  This is just as good with ghee and tamari as substitutes.  In the photo, it is paired with red quinoa and salmon kabayaki from Elana's Pantry.  Please note that ghee is not appropriate for those with dairy allergy, but is considered lactose and casein free.  Earth Balance Buttery Spread can be used as a substitute.


1 bunch asparagus
2 tbsp ghee
2 tsp tamari
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil


Preheat oven to 410 degrees.  Wash and cut off tough ends of asparagus.  Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, checking at 5 minutes for tenderness.  Meanwhile, melt ghee in small saucepan.  Add tamari and vinegar and simmer for about one minute, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly brown.  Drizzle over cooked asparagus and serve immediately.  Serves 3 to 4.   Source:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gluten Free Molasses Spice Muffins

These muffins are a wonderful guilt free snack for a fall afternoon. Blackstrap molasses is a nutrient dense sweetener that adds a distinct flavor to baked goods. It is one of those tastes you either love or hate. It contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, trace minerals and some B vitamins. It can also add flavor and nutrients to smoothies and shakes. Its strong taste makes it so a little goes a long way!


2 cups gluten free oat flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp allspice
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup canola or other allowed oil
2 tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan by greasing or adding baking cup liners. Mix first four dry ingredients in a small bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fill muffin cups with batter, about 3/4 full. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Yield: 12 muffins. Source:

This recipe has been shared with Pennywise Platter Thursdays.

Sunday Morning Hash

There are many great recipes for hash floating around.  A couple of my favorites include "Heavenly Hash" from The Body Ecology Diet, and Adzuki Bean and Yam Hash, from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

With a prep time of about an hour, I only have time to make this dish on Sunday mornings.  It is well worth the effort and stands well on its own, or paired with a smoothie and/or eggs.


6 slices bacon
4 medium red potatoes
1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh parsley (1/2 cup chopped)
ghee, or other allowed oil
herbamere (a spice blend available in natural food stores) or sea salt to taste

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quinoa (I used red)
sea salt


Fry bacon in a non-stick pan.  While it is cooking, chop onions, and wash and cube potatoes, skin on.  The smaller you cut the potato, the quicker your cooking time will be.  When bacon is cooked, remove from pan without dumping the grease.  Saute onion a minute or two in the bacon grease and add potatoes.  Add ghee or oil as needed to prevent sticking.  Cover and let cook over medium, high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes and adjusting heat to avoid burning the potato.  Meanwhile, place water and a dash of sea salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil.  Add quinoa, reduce to low heat and cover for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.  Wash and chop parsley, and chop bacon.  When potatoes are soft enough to gently pierce with a fork, remove cover.  Turn up heat and brown potatoes.  Add parsley, bacon and quinoa and remove from heat.  Season with Herbamere or sea salt.  Serves about 3.  Source:

A note about ghee:

Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is butter that is cooked to remove the milk solids.  The butter is heated and the fat rises to the top, while the milk solids stay at the bottom.  The fat is considered ghee.  While ghee is lactose and casein free, it is not suitable for people with an allergy to dairy.  You can buy ghee at most natural food stores, or you can make your own.

Sauerkraut - A Natural Way to Get Your Probiotics

I fell in love with sauerkraut last summer when I was served a homemade version at the Bay House, in Lincoln City Oregon. Sauerkraut is one of several fermented foods that contains natural probiotics - the good bacteria that lives in your intestines. The chef informed me all you need is cabbage, salt and patience to make this probiotic culinary delight.

You can also find sauerkraut at your local natural foods store in the refrigerator section, but beware, some are pasteurized limiting their probiotic value. I contacted Bubbies (my personal favorite) and was informed they flash heat it to 135-140 degrees before sealing it in jars to calm the culture because it was bubbling and causing too much leakage for their distributors. A representative informed me that although the product is not raw, it does contain some beneficial live bacteria.

I have tried eating sauerkraut in several recipes, and find that my favorite pairings are with pork and buffalo. Buffalo can sometimes be tolerated by those sensitive to beef, and I think it tastes better. You can find grass fed, hormone free meats through your local natural food store, local farm or farmers market. Resources for finding these options are available on the side bar of my blog (Eat Wild, Green People, Local Harvest and Culinate).

Buffalo Burgers with Lettuce, Onion, Tomato and Sauerkraut


1 pound ground buffalo
1 head butter or red leaf lettuce
2 medium sliced tomatoes
1/2 medium sliced red onion
sea salt


Wash leaves of lettuce.  Heat up barbecue.  Form buffalo into patties and add sea salt.  Place on barbeque and cook to desired doneness.  When ready to serve, arrange patties on leaves of lettuce, and add tomato, onion and sauerkraut.  Serves three to four.  Source:

Pork Sirloin Tip with Ginger and Sauerkraut

Ginger, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, is especially soothing to the gut.  It also adds extra zing to this meal.


1 pound pork sirloin tip cutlet
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp coconut or other allowed oil for low salicylate diet
sea salt


Heat oil in heavy frying pan over medium heat.  Saute ginger for a couple of minutes until aromatic.  Add pork and sprinkle with salt.  Cook for a few minutes until the bottom of the meat has changed color.  Flip and cook to desired doneness.  Serve with sauerkraut and a green salad.  Serves two.  Source:

The Case for Gluten Sensitivity Testing

The Problem

     There is widespread agreement that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are under diagnosed.  Joseph Murray, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic estimates that 1 in 100 people have celiac disease, and most are undiagnosed. Dr. Kenneth Fine, a gastroenterologist at the Intestinal Health Institute, estimates that 30 % of Americans may be gluten sensitive, meaning they are having an autoimmune reaction caused by eating gluten, but they don't meet the gold standard for diagnosis of celiac disease: flattened villi in the small intestine. Combine these estimates with the opinion from Dr. Peter Green, Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, that the blood testing for celiac disease is not always definitive. In other words, a negative blood test does not rule out celiac disease.

     Why is this a problem? Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are slow moving diseases that gradually lead to further complications, such as: intestinal cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, dementia, infertility and an increased risk of development of additional autoimmune diseases, just to name a few. The treatment for the disease is simple: a gluten free diet. The further the disease progresses without intervention, the greater risk a person is for developing complications, some of which can’t be reversed. The earlier the diagnosis, the more likely a person can reverse or prevent symptoms by going on a gluten free diet.

The Stories

     I recently spoke about our experience getting my son diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, and eventually, multiple food sensitivities, publicly for the first time. I spoke to a group of 75 people at our public library, as part of a presentation on food sensitivity and mental illness. You see, my son had a severe case of anxiety for a number of years. He worked with a skilled counselor who used cognitive behavioral therapy with him.  When he was six, after informing us his was one of the worst cases she had seen, she recommended a psychiatric evaluation for possible drug therapy.

     My husband and I, reluctant to take that route, began noticing that his worst days were when he ate junk food, especially with a lot of sugary treats. We began to wonder if there was a connection between his gut and his brain. I started to do my own research, and figured out he had all of the symptoms of a condition known as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar: sweaty palms, leg pains, headaches, night waking, anxiety, and very irritable when he was hungry. When I approached his pediatrician with this information, I was pretty quickly dismissed.

     We sought help from a naturopathic physician, who explained hypoglycemia can be a symptom of food sensitivity. Testing showed my son was sensitive to wheat, egg, soy and dairy. In light of the wheat sensitivity, the naturopath ordered a celiac blood test, which came back negative. Eventually, my son was examined by Dr. John Green, who told us about a gluten sensitivity test through EnteroLab that is more sensitive than blood testing. My son’s test came back positive. Once we removed gluten from his diet, his rashes went away, and his thyroid function and energy improved. In retrospect, I now understand that the rashes, fussiness, frequent infections, constant night waking and slow growth he suffered as a young child were also attributable to undiagnosed gluten sensitivity.

     The process of telling my story was cathartic. And even though I know our family is not alone in this difficult journey to getting diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, it is still shocking to me how many people go through this, many of whom never get a proper diagnosis because of the lack of knowledge about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity within the medical community. After I told my story, Nadine Grzeskowiak, the 
Gluten Free RN, told her story.

     Nadine was traveling around Oregon working in emergency rooms when she came down with pneumonia. She never felt right after that, and her health began to deteriorate. She sought medical help from multiple doctors, and eventually started doing her own research because nobody could figure out what was wrong with her. After a few years, her hair was falling out, her body was failing, and her doctors gave her only six months to live. She went to a dermatologist who, upon examination, told her she had the symptoms of celiac disease, and ran a blood test to confirm the suspicion. Meanwhile, Nadine went on a gluten free diet, and within a couple of weeks started feeling better. When she went back to the dermatologist to get her test results, she was informed the blood test was negative for celiac disease. The news was initially discouraging, because she wanted a diagnosis.  But after she thought about how much better she felt without gluten, she decided to stick with the gluten free diet. Listening to her speak on stage, you would never guess she had been through such an ordeal. She is healthy now and runs her own business helping people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

     I met a member of the audience, Karen Cormac-Jones, whose son Ted, began complaining of nausea at the age of 9. The nausea soon turned into vomiting and lack of appetite, and Ted weighed a meager 57 pounds. He was put on anti-nausea medications, which had no effect, leaving Ted walking around his house with a bowl to catch his frequent vomit, and sleepless painful nights because of the constant nausea.  A blood test for celiac disease showed his antigliadin IgG antibodies were high, indicating a possible gluten intolerance. Ted had a biopsy of his small intestine to determine if his villi were flattened, the “gold” standard for diagnosis of celiac disease. No flattened villi were found. Shortly after, another doctor diagnosed Ted with H. pylori bacteria, elevated levels of lead and mercury, and compromised immunity. Ted’s H. pylori was treated, yet the nausea remained. Because Ted’s weight was still so low, a gluten free diet was not recommended. Ted eventually got a full work up at the Mayo Clinic, who were unable to give a diagnosis, or even explain Ted’s nausea. Finally, Karen found a doctor who ordered ELISA IgG food allergy testing, which showed Ted was sensitive to 25 different foods. In addition, testing through EnteroLab revealed that Ted was sensitive to gluten. Her journey to diagnosis took 3 years, involved 22 doctors , including pediatricians, an allergist, an eye doctor, gastroenterologists, a neurologist, and eventually a naturopath and acupuncturist. You’ll be glad to know that after going on a gluten free diet, Ted is now a happy, healthy and energetic teenager.

     These stories demonstrate the painful and expensive road that many have to endure to get a proper diagnosis of gluten sensitivity in the United States. It is perplexing to me that in this day and age of advanced technology and innovation that we are overlooking something as incredibly basic as to whether the food we eat could be making us sick. Why is gluten sensitivity testing such a well kept secret when it can help solve health problems in such a drastic way? As a consumer of medical services, I have a lot of trouble with this concept.  Can you imagine the health care dollars we would save if gluten sensitivity testing were routine in people who are at risk? My insurance company covered the cost of the EnteroLab test. I’m sure the insurance companies have figured out that testing saves them money.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

First of all, it’s important to note that one does not have to have gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.) to have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. In fact, it is estimated that the disease is silent in a third of people, with no clinical symptoms.   Second, the disease is genetic, so if your family members have it, you are at risk. It is recommended that relatives of those diagnosed with celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity be tested.

     Although symptoms vary from person to person, here are some to watch out for: 

     *unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
     *fatigue, weakness or lack of energy
     *delayed growth or onset of puberty
     *bone or joint pain
     *bone loss or osteoporosis
     *depression, anxiety, behavior changes, autism, ADHD/ADD
     *tingling numbness in the hands and feet
     *fertility problems
     *canker sores inside the mouth
     *dental enamel defects
     *an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis, or psoriasis
     *recurring digestive discomfort/problems
     *peripheral neuropathy
     *cerebellar ataxia

     Also, a 
recent study suggests people with restless leg syndrome should be screened.

     In addition to the symptoms above, the following autoimmune diseases are associated with celiac disease:

*type 1 diabetes
     *autoimmune thyroid disease
     *rheumatoid arthritis
     *sjogren's disease
     *addison's disease
     *autoimmune liver disease
     *multiple sclerosis
     *systemic lupus erthematosus

     EnteroLab recommends gluten sensitivity testing for anyone who has an autoimmune disease.  

The Test

     The testing through EnteroLab can be ordered online and done in your home.  The genetic testing is done through a cheek swab, and the other testing is done through stool samples.  Our insurance covered the test with a doctor's order, however, no order is necessary to receive the test.  The most comprehensive test, which includes gluten sensitivity, tissue transglutaminase (test for the autoimmune reaction caused by gluten sensitivity), intestinal malabsorption test, genetic testing, and dairy sensitivity testing, costs $369.  Check 
EnteroLab's website for other testing options.

     Many doctors are now using EnteroLab to test for gluten sensitivity.  If yours does not, call EnteroLab and ask for doctors who test in your geographic area.

What are we waiting for?

     Dr. Kenneth Fine, the gastroenterologist behind the EnteroLab test, argues we shouldn't wait until the villi in the small intestine are gone to prescribe a gluten free diet.  By that time, the disease has progressed enough that malabsorption and other complications have started to develop or are already present.  Some people with gluten sensitivity may have damage to other tissues, but not enough flattening of the villi to qualify for a diagnosis of celiac disease under current standards.  Just like doctors test cholesterol levels and recommend dietary counseling to prevent heart disease, gluten sensitivity screening could prevent a myriad of complications from developing, especially in high risk groups.

     Looking back, I realize that the vitiligo I developed when I was six, my slow growth as a child, my borderline anemia which began by 16, the dental enamel defects and recurring sores in my mouth that I had in my 20's, and the joint pain and eventual thyroid disease that was diagnosed in my 30's, were all indicators of disease.  A skilled doctor, especially one that looked at my family history of thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, could have put it together earlier and recommended testing.  That knowledge could have in turn, saved my son from growing up with anxiety and other physical problems he has had to endure.

     I can't change the past, but I can spread the news that many diseases can be prevented through testing and a gluten free diet.  If you are a doctor who cares about the health of his or her patients, why not use gluten sensitivity testing in your practice?  I guarantee, you will develop a loyal following of patients once the word gets out that you are curing disease.

     The bottom line is simple.  There is no risk to getting screened for gluten sensitivity.  There is a significant risk to not getting tested if risk factors are present.  If you, or someone in your family is at risk, what are you waiting for?

     For supporting references and more information about the relationship between autoimmune disease and gluten sensitivity, please visit
 Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity and Autoimmune DiseaseEnterolab's frequently asked questions about gluten sensitivity and Enterolab's Resources and Education page.

Recommended Reading:

Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance.

This post is linked to Fight Back Friday and Monday Mania.
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