Gluten Free For Good


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Posts Tagged ‘Celiac & Gluten Intolerance’

gluten-free food rules (recipe included)

Last week (or was it last month – yikes, what happened to April) I had some fun with a post featuring my top 10 super foods for men. My intention was to follow up with a top 10 super foods for women post, but I got behind and now I need to make a programming change. Women’s nutrition and more fun with the differences between males and females will air next week. Stay tuned because (gasp!) we really are different!

Here’s why I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled program. I have a good reason.

May is Celiac Awareness Month and Diane from The W.H.O.L.E. Gang has cooked up a blogging event called 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living. You’ve probably heard people (even some top celiac docs) talk about the difficulties of life without gluten. And how awful it is. And woe is me. And blah, blah, blah. Like gluten was chocolate or something.

Well, 30 different food bloggers are here to say otherwise. Check out this wonderful list of daily contributions. While there’s definitely a learning curve to living gluten-free and it’s not always easy, with knowledge and support, it can be the gateway to a whole new healthy and radiant lifestyle.

Here we sit at the top of the food chain and many of us (gluten-free or not) have no idea what to eat. Factor in conflicting health advice and a diagnosis of gluten intolerance and suddenly eating becomes very complicated. It doesn’t have to be. In 2009 food guru Michael Pollan came out with a handbook of simple and straightforward food rules. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual became an instant best seller. I’m going to borrow his easy-to-follow format and tweak it a bit to focus on gluten-free eating. Some of these “rules” are my own creations and some are adapted from Michael’s book.

The point is to heal, renew, rev your engine, turn on your brights and thrive. But first, you need high grade, gluten-free fuel. Adopting these food rules will help you do that. Plus, you’ll lessen your chances of being zapped by gluten cooties.

Gluten-Free Food Rules (in no particular order)

1. Choose fresh, organic, whole foods. They’re gluten-free by default. No labels to read.

2. Make plant sources, especially vegetables, your foundation.

3. If it’s made in a plant, don’t eat it – if it is a plant, do eat it.

4. For the most part, choose foods you can hold in your hands and wash. Can you wash a box of Kraft mac and cheese, oreo cookies or a Hostess ding dong? You can wash cabbage, apples, tomatoes and you can rinse brown rice and quinoa.

5. If animals, insects and bacteria won’t eat it, we shouldn’t either. Food that has been sprayed with chemicals to repel critters isn’t a good choice for people either.

6. Don’t eat food that never spoils. If it doesn’t rot, it’s not food.

7. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, not when you’re full. No longer hungry is different from full.

8. Choose products (gluten-free flours, grains, etc.) that have been tested and are certified gluten-free. The Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) and the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) currently have certification programs. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is in the process of creating a similar certification program.

9. Ingredients are listed by weight on labels. Any product that has more sugar than other ingredients has too much sugar. Avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).

10. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat them.

11. Avoid impostors (foods pretending to be something else). Think, “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” Eat real butter, not fake butter.

12. Eat a good portion of your veggies raw. Organic is best. Click here for a pocket version of the Environmental Working Group’s guide to organic produce (the dirty dozen and the clean 15).

13. Buy oils packaged in dark bottles and store away from heat. This prevents the oil from going rancid (very unhealthy).

14. Use the water you’ve steamed or cooked veggies in. Save it for smoothies or soups. It’s packed with good plant nutrients.

15. Pay more, eat less (see photo above).

16. “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.” I don’t know who originally said that, but it’s true.

17. Don’t eat food that has been tossed to you through your car window. Don’t eat and drive.

18. Prepare your own food, don’t get it from a vending machine or a gas station.

19. Eat all your meals at a table.

20. Be wary of supplement claims. If you want to increase your antioxidant amounts, eat beets, asparagus, blueberries, chard and cherries. Eat colorful fruits and veggies. Choose real food in its natural form. Don’t count on supplements unless you REALLY need them (verifiable deficiencies).

Roasted salmon and asparagus
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a piece of tin foil on a cookie sheet and lightly grease with olive oil.
2. Carefully rinse and pat dry the salmon filet (any size). Pour a little olive oil in your hands and rub it on the entire fish.
3. Place fish skin side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
4. Wash and trim asparagus. Pat dry and place in baking dish. Toss in a small amount of olive oil and place on prepared cookie sheet (see photo above) next to the salmon. Sprinkle with diced fresh garlic, sea salt and ground pepper.
5. Bake fish and asparagus together in oven for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Remove when the fish flakes easily with a fork.
6. Serve with lemon slices and a fresh green salad.

For more information on salmon, a detailed breakdown of EFAs (essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6) and a tamari salmon recipe, check here.

Peace, love and easy gluten-free living!

neuron nutrition (my top 8 brain foods)

I think the highly intelligent plant world is trying to tell us something with this chunk of cauliflower.

Doesn’t it look like a mid-sagittal section right out of a frontal lobe, complete with cerebral white matter?

Or, maybe networks of giant axons and dendrites. This head (whoa, it’s even called a head) of cauliflower appears to be a bit left-brain-heavy. What do you think? More neural pathways on the left side? Aaah, must be a linear thinker.

I’ll put aside my vivid imagination and interest in plant autopsies for a moment and talk about the healing power of whole foods. Most of us have enough bizarro stuff going on inside our heads that can sabotage our good intentions, let’s at least give our thoughts some powerful building blocks and mighty antioxidants to work with.

Food for thought

I can’t start this “brain food” list without commenting on gluten as a neuro-cootie. This is official – research has shown gluten to be a neuro-toxin (for some susceptible people). It can cause ataxia, epilepsy-like symptoms, peripheral neuropathy, depression, migraines, brain fog and a host of other neurological problems. In some rare instances, the neurological impact of gluten can even mimic ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), MS and Parkinson’s Disease. Get tested for celiac disease if you have unusual neurological symptoms. A gluten-free, whole foods diet may (will) be beneficial. Check here for Dr. Rodney Ford’s take on this years ago. Scientific research is finally catching up to his diagnostic skills as a physician.

Nutrition for neurons (the basics)

• EFAs (essential fatty acids) are important for brain function. Wild-caught salmon and other cold-water fish, flax seeds, nuts, and pastured eggs are examples of foods rich in EFAs.
• Proper hydration is important for brain function. Dehydration causes the release of stress hormones, which impact neurons.
• Organic, whole foods rich in antioxidants should be the focus of a “healthy brain” diet. Antioxidants help prevent and repair cell damage.
• Sunshine stimulates the production of vitamin D, which is thought to aid in the protection of neurons. Plus, a little sunshine can boost your mood.

My top 8 food picks for brain health

This list is just a random assortment of nutrient-dense foods that I like and are high in antioxidant power. I’ve chosen foods that are easy to find and that people might actually eat. No need to scour the Amazon rainforest floor for some exotic plant or climb the Himalayas for a power-packed berry. Seriously, let’s make this easy. Organic is always best and I prefer eating the whole food rather than counting on supplements. That way you get a diverse combination of beneficial phytonutrients.

1. Cauliflower (I had no choice, this one looks like a brain)
Cauliflower is packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Research is mounting that oxidative damage to brain cells may precede diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. One cup of raw cauliflower contains 94% of the daily value for vitamin C. It’s also anti-inflammatory and is a good source of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and other plant goodies.

2. Wild-caught salmon (as mentioned above)
Please check out this past post I did on EFAs and why they are important for brain health. The post also includes a detailed break-down of omega-3s and omega-6s and a wonderful salmon recipe. Lots of good brain-building information in that post.

3. Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries.
All of these fruits are packed with antioxidants. Don’t stick with one choice – mix and match them for a variety of protective compounds.

4. Mustard greens
You’re probably thinking this is an unlikely choice for the top 8 brain foods, but I’ve decided it’s a good representative for leafy greens in general (kale, collard greens, spinach, chard). One cup of mustard greens, which I’ve recently become quite fond of, has 118% of the daily value of vitamin A and 65% of the daily value of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin E and it’s anti-inflammatory. A, C and E are all antioxidants, so this green is a good one to make friends with. I throw it in smoothies.

5. Coffee
Surprise, surprise! As those of you following this blog know, even though I’m a nutritionist, I don’t think coffee is evil. In fact, I like the stuff in small doses and guess what? It’s not only high in antioxidants, research indicates the caffeine in coffee has a neuroprotective effect. Choose organic coffee, use in moderation (1-2 cups per day) and don’t drink it later in the day.

6. Beans
Beans are a good source of easily-absorbed amino acids, which are important in the production of enzymes and neurotransmitters.

7. Organic, pasture-raised chicken eggs
Eggs are one of the best sources of high-quality protein. Pastured eggs are also high in omega-3s, vitamin A, vitamin E and B vitamins, all of which are important for healthy brain function.

8. Dark chocolate
Good, high-quality dark chocolate in moderation is a good source of antioxidants. Plus, a chunk of dark chocolate now and then puts you in a good mood and makes you a nicer person. I’m nicer when people give me chocolate. Aren’t you?

Peace, love and brain power!

gluten-free spinach beet zucchini pizza

Pizza — laden with roasted golden beets, zucchini and vitamin-K-packed SPINACH.

I picked up my CSA delivery box this past week and guess what I found inside?

Whoa, how did you know?

Spinach, glorious deep-green spinach. And lots of it.

I’m not complaining because it’s the best spinach on the planet. It’s just that you have to get very creative with your recipe development when you’re in the deep-end of spinach season. Beet, zucchini and spinach pizza, anyone? Trust me, this was over-the-top delicious. But, before I launch into the recipe, please humor me (or skip this part) and let me wallow in my geek-ness.


I have a theory about hearty greens (like spinach and kale) and celiac disease and gluten-intolerance.

Celiac disease is a genetically predisposed autoimmune disease in which gluten (the main storage protein in wheat, barley and rye) wreaks havoc on the small intestine, inhibiting nutrient absorption. That’s the super-duper, shortened definition. If you want the unabridged version, leave me a comment and I’ll fill you in on anything and everything you might want to know about celiac disease and gluten-intolerance. But for now, my theory about spinach and it’s role in healing.

Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense (calorie for calorie) foods available. I bet the deep-green, leafy, organic stuff I get from Grant Family Farms is on the far-side of pharmaceutical grade. It’s packed with vitamin K – 1110% of the recommended daily value. It also contains a zillion other health-promoting nutrients, but to keep this post from becoming a thesis paper, I’m going to focus on vitamin K and celiac disease.

Without getting into the poopy (literally) details, unmanaged celiac disease can cause nutrient malabsorption. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), iron, folic acid and a large part of our calcium are absorbed in the proximal section (the top part) of the small intestine. That’s the area that receives the most damage when you have celiac disease. If you have a trashed small intestine and you’re not breaking down your food adequately or absorbing your nutrients efficiently, you won’t be absorbing your fats (to make a long story short). If you’re not absorbing your fats, you won’t be absorbing your fat soluble vitamins. If you’re not absorbing your fat soluble vitamins, you won’t get the full benefit of vitamin K.

This is a generality. Our bodies are amazing and we compensate in many different ways, but if you become deficient in vitamin K, your blood may not clot properly. Isn’t it interesting that our blood has this amazing ability to flow quickly throughout the body; up and down and all around? Think about it, it remains a flowing liquid. But if you cut yourself, it can become a solid within seconds. Whew, that’s a good thing. If blood didn’t clot, one pinprick could drain the entire body of all its blood. Imagine a water balloon with one tiny little hole in it. Eventually all the water would slowly drain from the balloon.

Does anyone out there bruise or bleed easily? Anyone with celiac disease? Hmmm?

Vitamin K also plays a role in the synthesis of bone proteins. Without adequate vitamin K, the bones produce a funky protein that can’t bind to the minerals that normally form bones. You see, it’s not just the calcium you need for strong bones, it’s also vitamin K (and a bunch of other things, including exercise).

Anyone with osteopenia or osteoporosis? And celiac disease? Hmmm?

One more geeky thing (maybe two) and I’ll get on to the pizza recipe. Vitamin K can also be obtained from a nonfood source. GI tract bacteria can synthesize vitamin K, but you need to have a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria for that to happen. Antibiotics also kill the vitamin K producing bacteria, so there are lots of ways to become deficient, especially if you have celiac disease.

Now, don’t go taking vitamin K supplements unless your doctor prescribes them. Fat-soluble vitamins aren’t excreted as easily as water-soluble vitamins, so the risk of toxicity is much greater. I’m a big fan of getting my nutrients from high-quality food. This kind of focus is called nutrition therapy – this is what I do and this is how I live (most of the time, anyway).

So, let thy food be thy medicine and go eat some spinach!

gluten-free, spinach, roasted beet and zucchini pizza
what you need

1 gluten-free pizza crust (I used an Udi’s pre-made thin crust on this pizza)
1 & 1/2  tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (maybe 1-2 teaspoons)
2 small golden beets, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes (no need to peel)
1 zucchini, washed and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
2 cups spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped
grated cheese (I like a mix of  shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago)

what you do
1. Because the beets and zucchini take longer to cook than the pizza itself, I like to roast them first. It also adds a nice taste to the pizza. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared beets and zucchini in a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Gently mix to cover with oil. Spread out the veggies on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast on center rack of the oven for about 15 minutes. Watch closely and flip using a spatula to make sure they’re roasted evenly. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. While the veggies are roasting, melt the butter over low heat, add the garlic and honey and stir until blended.
3. Brush the melted butter-garlic-honey blend over the pizza crust. Add chopped spinach first, then beets and zucchini. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and cook in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Cut into 4 slices and enjoy! Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are.

* I’ve also made this pizza with red beets, but I kept the beets separate while preparing them so that everything else didn’t turn pink (not that it matters).

Udi’s is a local company. The pizza crusts are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free and delicious. Gluten-cootie-eaters don’t even know they’re gluten-free. No apologizing, no explaining needed!

Peace, love and vitamin K!

melissa’s bimonthly potluck picks

bi•month•ly (adjective) – occurring or produced twice a month or every two months: a bimonthly blog post.

pot•luck (noun) – used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be acceptable: melissa’s bimonthly potluck picks.

Rather than a single-subject blog post, how about a few short, random samplings arbitrarily chosen depending on my mood? Instead of foto-Friday or meatless-Monday, I’ll do bimonthly potluck picks. That way I’m not committed to anything specific. Or often, for that matter. There’s no way I could commit to a weekly feature.

Every other week? Maybe. Every other month? Probably.

I love the ambiguous dictionary description of bimonthly. The indefinite and broad interpretation is perfect for someone like me who has no idea when my next blog post will occur or what it will be about.

Here we go — my first bimonthly potluck picks blog post. Hang on, I might wander into weird and icky territory.

Pick #1
advanced placement label reading

Castoreum extract is a food additive found in some processed foods. It’s been used as a flavor ingredient for the past 80 years and both FEMA (Flavor and Extract Manufacturer’s Association) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regard castoreum as “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS). I avoid processed foods, but I imagine I’ve probably eaten castoreum at some point in my life. Here’s the truth behind the label. According to Webster’s Dictionary, castoreum is (cue retching sounds) a peculiar bitter orange-brown substance, with strong, penetrating odor, found in two sacs between the anus and external genitals of the beaver.

Enough said. Avoid processed foods.

Pick #2
Celiac Awareness Month

Last year the House of Representatives, with the Senate concurring, named May as National Celiac Awareness Month. Hmmm? And all these years I’ve been throwing my celiac soirées in October (former National Celiac Awareness Month). Increased awareness and Congressional support for advocacy and education regarding celiac disease is good, the month really doesn’t matter.

On second thought, I have celiac disease and May is my birthday month (emphasis on the whole month). Perfect reason for a May Congressional declaration and a gluten-free party. Or gala. I prefer birthday galas. Big, glittery galas with lots of presents.

Pick #3
Misnamed solar plexus

Following up on Celiac Awareness Month, I’d like to share something I learned many years ago in my cadaver lab. You’ve heard the term solar plexus, right? Well, it’s not called the solar plexus, it’s the CELIAC plexus. A plexus is a intricate network of nerves or vessels in the body. The following was taken directly from my Principles of Anatomy and Physiology textbook: The celiac plexus is found at the last thoracic and first lumbar vertebrae. It is the largest autonomic plexus and surrounds the celiac and superior mesenteric arteries. It contains two large celiac ganglia and a dense network of autonomic axons. Secondary plexuses that arise from the celiac plexus are distributed to the liver, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, medulla (inner region) of the adrenal gland, testes, and ovaries.

Doesn’t that sound like this celiac plexus thingy-ma-bob has an important role? Like maybe keeping us alive?

Then how come so many people in the healthcare profession (including doctors) have never even heard of the word celiac? Just wondering.

Pick #4
Best plant-based sources of calcium

Those of us who don’t eat dairy products (or in limited amounts) can get our calcium from plant-based sources. Here are some of my favorite high-calcium, non-dairy foods.
pinto beans (1 cup cooked), 82 mg calcium
chickpeas (1 cup cooked), 77 mg
sesame seeds (2 tablespoons), 176 mg
bok choy (1/2 cup cooked), 79 mg
collard greens (1/2 cup cooked), 178 mg
kale (1/2 cup cooked), 90 mg
dried figs (5 figs), 137 mg
blackstrap molasses (1 tablespoon), 172 mg

How was that? Is this worth repeating on a bimonthly (whatever that might mean) basis?

Peace, love and potluck picks!
P.S. As for pick #1, I’ll be sure to include something equally disgusting next time.

gluten-free scotch irish oat cakes

As is often the case, I’m a day (10 days?) late and a dollar (more than a dollar, but who’s counting?) short. It was my intention to post this recipe on St. Patrick’s Day, but my good intentions got blasted by real life. And snow. And spring skiing.

These tasty treats should actually be called gluten-free, Scotch-Irish, wild-west, Montana oat cakes. I know that’s a mouthful, but so are these hearty little cakes. I’m always on the lookout for bread substitutes and this recipe hit the spot.

First, let’s deal with the controversial “oats” question. Should people with gluten intolerance eat oats? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s my take on it, but remember I’m a celiac-specializing nutritionist, not a celiac-specializing lab researcher/doctor. I do have celiac, so that makes me a bit of an expert in my own little bio-world, but everyone is different. What works for me, may not work for you.

Current research shows that pure, uncontaminated oats in moderate amounts are safe for most people with celiac disease. The key word here is “most.” Some people don’t tolerate oats at all and others, not used to the high fiber load, experience digestive problems while getting used to them. Check with your health care professional first and then start with a small dose (1/4 cup before cooking). Try a bowl of gluten-free, hot oatmeal once or twice the first week and see how you do.

Oats are a high-fiber, nutrient-dense, hearty cereal grain. They contain a specific fiber called beta-glucan, which studies show helps lower cholesterol and enhance immune function. Most Americans don’t get nearly the fiber they need and oats are a great way to boost intake. They’re also high in vitamins, minerals, are packed with bioavailable antioxidants (Journal of Nutrition) and they also help maintain blood sugar levels. They’re perfect for people with diabetes or metabolic disorders and are rich in manganese, selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, thiamin and protein. Plus, they taste good. I love oats, absolutely love them.

Blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to bog you down with geek talk, but trust me, oats can be a healthy addition to anyone’s diet (almost anyone). As I said above, proceed with caution if you’re gluten intolerant.

I found several recipes for oat cakes and most were very similar. I tested three and found this one, taken from Vegetarian Times Magazine, worked the best. I “tweaked” it just a touch.

gluten-free Scotch-Irish wild west Montana oat cakes
what you need

1 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free oat flour (more for shaping the cakes) *
2 cups gluten-free, old-fashioned oats *
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Earth Balance “butter” or “shortening”

what you do
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Oil a baking sheet. You can also use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (which I used).
2. Mix together oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
3. Place oat flour in a large mixing bowl. Cut in Earth Balance and mix with fingers until crumbly.*
4. Add oat mixture and then buttermilk to the oat flour/Earth Balance combination and combine until well blended.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop (or about that amount), work the mixture into a flat patty about 1/4 inch thick. You may need to dust your work surface or your hands to shape and flatten out the “cake.” Work with them and add a tiny touch more flour if you think they’re too wet to shape properly. Be careful though, you want them moist. My pre-baked patties ended up about the size of a rice cake, but a lot thinner.
6. Place them on the prepared baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Bake on center rack for 15 minutes and then rotate the pan for even baking. Continue baking for another 5 to 15 minutes. I baked mine for almost 30 minutes, but the original recipe called for 15 to 20 minutes. They should be a nice, light golden brown.
7. Cool on a wire rack.
8. Serve with peanut butter and honey or jelly, just like you would a rice cake. YUM! They make a perfect “holder” for all kinds of good things (almond butter, cheese, etc.). Be creative!

* I use Montana Gluten-Free Processors pure and uncontaminated oat products. They’re tested and certified GF and kosher. Check here for details.

* One of the best ways to mix butter or shortening into flour is to freeze it first and shred it into the flour mix with a cheese grater. I always have butter and shortening on hand in the freezer and ready to shred. It also works great in pie crusts and crumble toppings.

Cheers and happy late St. Patrick’s Day!

timtana montana orange muffins


Timtana Montana orange muffins. Made by Hannah Montana’s gluten-free sister. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Bear with me while I indulge in a little preamble ramble. I grew up in Colorado, but I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around the big sky state of Montana. My family had property on Whitefish Lake and in Paradise Valley. I’ve explored the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and had a show-down with a grizzly bear on my mountain bike in the Gallatin Range. Actually, he/she just gave me a bored look and ambled off, but still. I’ve camped on the Madison and Yellowstone Rivers, played in Flathead Lake, have ridden my bike over Logan Pass in Glacier National Park and have been serenaded late into the night by Dennis Quaid at Chico Hot Springs. Okay, so he was three sheets to the wind and wasn’t sure who he was serenading, but it was an interesting evening nonetheless (long story). My son went to the University of Montana, studied wildlife biology and is a part-time fly-fishing guide. My last name is McLean (without the “a”), as in “A River Runs Through It.”

I love Montana and its people. Those of you who’ve been following this blog know how I feel about my local farmers. I’m totally smitten with Andy Grant and the folks at Grant Family Farms in northern Colorado and feel a similar appreciation for my farmer and plant scientist friends in Montana.

Stick with me – there is a point to this post.

You may not know it, but some of the best gluten-free product development in the world is taking place in this laid-back, yet lively state. Belgrade, a small town nestled in the Gallatin Valley, is easy access to Bozeman, Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort, Bridger Bowl Ski Area and gluten-free food. This is my kind of place – rugged mountains, spring creeks, raging rivers, spacious valleys and hearty food. Seriously, what more could you ask for?

The Montana Gluten Free Processors make up a group of interesting characters (my favorite kind – quirky and off-beat) committed to nutritious, premium-quality, gluten-free food that also tastes good. They promote sustainable agriculture and have a dedicated gluten-free, state-of-the-art processing and packaging facility located in the foothills of the Bridger Mountains at the headwaters of the Missouri River. I’ve been experimenting with their products for a couple of years now and have found the hearty flavor and texture of the flours perfect for my kind of baking. As a nutritionist, I’m picky about what I eat and I’m not going to waste my calories on gluten-free flours that look like ground styrofoam, make squeaky sounds when you play with them and are devoid of nutrients. If I’m going to eat baked treats, I want them to be healthy.

Timtana is a great option for gluten-free baking. It has a wholesome, slightly sweet, nutty flavor. The color is rich, warm and sumptuous and it’s loaded with fiber and good quality protein.

Can you call a flour lusty?

If so, Timtana qualifies.

Timtana orange marmalade muffins
what you need

1 & 1/4 cup Timtana flour
3/4 cup garbanzo/fava bean flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup raw cane sugar (I used demerara style, but brown sugar would work fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 & 1/2 cup orange marmalade *
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon rice milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

what you do
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, soda, salt, xanthan gum and cinnamon and set aside. In a small bowl, combine rice milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
2. Cream Earth Balance, gradually add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and eggs. Add orange marmalade, mix on low until all ingredients are well blended.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, alternating with the rice milk/vinegar mixture.
4. Gently blend in pecans.
5. Spoon into paper lined muffin cups 2/3rds full and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 to 24 minutes (depending on your oven). To insure even cooking, rotate the pans 180 degrees half-way through baking time. Store in the refrigerator.

* I used St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade, which is 100% fruit and sweetened with grape juice concentrate.

Makes 18 gorgeous, lusty, wild-west muffins.


gluten-free at Coors Field


Go Gluten-Free Rockies!

Aside from the fact that the Rockies are wild-card favorites and that Todd Helton hit his 500th double and the game-winning home run last night at Coors Field, soon we’ll have the first gluten-free concession stand in the major leagues. Yeah! We’ll have gluten-free hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, brownies and even beer. Yes, gluten-free beer at “Coors” Field. How cool is that?!

Go Rockies!
P.S. I always bring my own little “gourmet” sack dinner to the ballpark, so this will be lost on me, but it’s great to have gluten-free options. Yippee!

gluten-free and twenty-something in Chicago


My twenty-something daughter and I both have celiac disease, although it’s much easier for me to manage since I have virtually no social life compared to her. I’m not complaining as the thought of going out partying until all hours of the night borders on horrifying to me, but when you’re young and living in a groovy city like Chicago, maintaining a healthy (and fun) gluten-free lifestyle can be a challenge.

I just spent the past few days in Seattle at the Gluten Intolerance Group’s national conference. Part of the professional track focused on the pathology and treatment of celiac disease and what’s in the future for drug therapies. I’m passionate about increasing awareness and am thankful for the research taking place and the new product development that has made GF living so much easier now than it was a decade ago when I started on this path.

Having said that, the photo above sums it all up for me. Eat real food – wholesome nourishing food – and not only will you heal and thrive, you won’t have to stress yourself out reading cryptic food labels or risking gluten contamination.

Tevis (my daughter) took this photo last week to prove to her nutritionist mother that she’s eating well and taking good care of herself. I was thrilled with her food choices until I heard she was carting all this stuff home from the market on her custom-made bike. Winding around in city traffic. While wearing work clothes. Knowing her, she probably had on a skirt and her Jackie O sunglasses.

When I was younger, I always wanted to raise colorful, creative, adventurous kids. That’s all well and good until you actually have kids like that.

Kids who email you stuff like, “Guess what mom? I’m in Berlin right now. I’m gonna be an “extra” in a scary movie.” Or, “We’ve changed plans, we may backpack through Tasmania before going back to New Zealand.” Or, “The steelhead fishing is amazing up here, but the weather’s bad and so are the grizzlies.” Or, “The surfing here in Costa Rica is amazing, mom. You can’t believe what we’ve been doing.”

Probably not. Thank God I don’t know. And where is up here?

They owe me big time, even though I have a good idea where some of this behavior came from. My mom says I got exactly what I deserved.

But when it comes to the food part, I’m not too worried about what they’re doing. They all have a fairly good idea of what makes up a healthy diet and how to create nourishing meals. As you might have noticed, there are some random bottles of alcohol in Tevis’ photo above. Beer and cider — at least they aren’t bottles of tequila or whiskey. (Don’t even tell me.)

Here’s her picks for the best gluten-free beer and cider options. What are your favorites?

Tevis’ GF beer and cider picks
Green’s Gluten-Free Beer (pictured above)
Bard’s Tale Gluten-Free Beer
St. Peter’s G-Free Beer
Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider (pictured above)
Doc Smitty’s Cider (pictured above)
Original Sin Cider

Tevis’ favorite Chicago bars/restaurants that serve GF beer and cider
Map Room
Blind Robin
Twisted Spoke
The Small Bar

Melissa and Tevis (scroll down the list of DJs to find her)
P.S. Be safe and make smart choices (my “mom” mantra).

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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