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A Gluten-Free Anniversary




Years ago I was desperate for answers. My body-mind-spirit was skidding down hill fast. The symptoms, Sugar Pie, you don't want to know about. Suffice it to say that Pepto Bismol was my true companion.

What I knew?


That a diagnosis of IBS with lactose intolerance was getting me nowhere. I wasn't feeling better eating more wheat germ and whole grains for fiber, like the doc instructed. In fact, I was feeling worse. Lactose enzymes did absolutely nothing. And the bread and pasta I was told to consume seemed to trigger more pain.


My intuition told me gluten might be a culprit after my first cousin was diagnosed with celiac disease. When I searched my symptoms on the Internet I discovered I was not alone. Gluten is an issue for roughly three million Americans. And having a family member diagnosed with celiac disease upped my odds considerably.

I called my nurse practitioner and asked if gluten might be the illusive enemy we were searching for. Maybe was her one word answer. I thought I heard her yawning. I asked if we could try a gluten-free trial to see if my symptoms abated. Sure, she said. See you in two weeks.

I knew within 48 hours I was on to something.

By the third day sans gluten I was symptom free and already envisioning a life without bloating and pain. The difference in my body was dramatic and immediate- and I wanted more of it. I consider myself lucky that I have obvious and attention-getting symptoms (to even the tiniest amount of gluten protein). The symptoms made my decision to go gluten-free an easy one. (Read about the ease and importance of testing here at Celiac Central.)

There were inadvertent bumps along the way to living totally gluten-free. I neglected to check on an herbal tea once and was "glutened" by  roasted barley. Lip balm did not register on my gluten radar at first; it was four weeks before I checked my lip balm label (lurking in the fine print: wheat germ oil and wheat bran).

Not thinking, I still used my old cutting board (saturated with wheat flour proteins) until it dawned on me how sticky a protein gluten actually was. I was contaminated at a well-meaning friend's house because she cooked and stirred the inherently gluten-free soup with her ancient wooden spoon.

There's a definite learning curve when it comes to living gluten free.

The good news is: it gets easier. 

Much easier. And as energy levels return, and life expands beyond planning rest room strategies and swigging Pepto Bismol for breakfast, you begin to comprehend just how awful you felt for so long. And how many odd and mysterious symptoms you took for granted as "normal". And how many insidious ways gluten affects and triggers the body's autoimmune system (digestive, cognitive, visual, neural, hormonal).

Gluten- the elastic protein in wheat, rye, spelt and barley- can cause impaired agility, balance and gait, lessen vitamin, mineral and protein absorption, diminish lactose, fructose and fat digestion, and whittle away bone integrity. Not to mention, energy and stamina. It can even trigger depression, migraines, skin rashes, brain lesions and seizures in certain individuals.

Scary stuff.

Going gluten-free requires a time for realignment and adjustment- living gluten-free is traveling in unknown territory without much of a road map and very little support; though that particular aspect is rapidly changing thanks to the Internet, the fabulous work of the NFCA, and the recent flourishing of dedicated research centers devoted to understanding and curing celiac disease.

As awareness grows, gluten-free products are becoming more widely available (my favorite baking and pancake mix is Pamela's) and better tasting.

GF life is good and getting better. And living gluten-free has been a slow but steady climb toward healing and regaining strength, clarity, and stamina. I've come a long way. And I've developed quite a passion for gluten-free cooking.

So today, in honor of my Gluten-Free Anniversary, I just may have a cupcake for breakfast.

Care to join me?

Karina xo


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Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions

Need wheat-free gluten-free baking tips? Help is Here. Here's what works- and what doesn't- in quirky Gluten-Free Baking and Substitution Land. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess®. Baking Substitutions for Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free and More Notes on GF Flours: Gluten-free non-wheat flours generally fall into three basic weights- light starch, all-purpose medium, or heavier whole grain. A blend of medium and heavy flours with some starch mixed in to lighten, tenderize, and help bind the batter or dough works best, and tastes best (too much starch can result in a gummy texture). Light, starchy GF flours include sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and the ubiquitous gluten-free starches- tapioca starch, cornstarch, potato starch (NOT potato flour, which is whole different animal) and arrowroot starch. Medium flours are akin to 'all purpose flour'- these include sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, and superfine brown rice flour. If you cannot find sorg

Gluten-Free Goddess Pasta Frittata with Kale

An Italian Classic - Updated. Today I offer you a simple recipe spun from the magic of leftover gluten-free spaghetti and eggs- a creamy, light frittata. Perfect for the weekend. Or when you're simply too tired to cook. Or you have nothing in the fridge but a carton of eggs, half a bag of kale salad and last night's leftover cooked spaghetti. It's one of those intuitive, spontaneous recipes I've pulled out of thin air, so many times. For dairy-free folks, the "cheese" pictured in this version was a vegan "mozzarella" (my current favorite is Vegan Gourmet). But if you prefer using dairy- select one or two of your favorite Italian organic cheeses. I've also made this yummy dish using goat cheese (and roasted red peppers!), and another time I tried a blend of fresh mozzarella and shaved Parmesan. It's a very versatile recipe. Celebrate Spring. Have fun with it! XOX Karina

Gluten-Free Lasagna In a Casserole Style Slow Cooker

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Gluten-Free Goddess Blueberry Muffins- No Xanthan Gum

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Gluten-Free Goddess Brownies- The Best

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Gluten-Free Goddess Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ah, flourless chocolate cake. The perfect rich dessert. Forgive the hyperbole. But I just can't help it. This is rich, sexy chocolate deliciousness on a plate. And such an easy recipe, especially if you use a food processor to do the work. Serve this to non-gluten-free folks with no apologies. None. Zip. Nada. And for gluten-free folks? Hand out seconds (we deserve it, don't we?). And the best part is- the recipe is inherently gluten-free and wheat-free. Always has been. No substitutions. No funny stuff. This is the same flourless chocolate cake I've been making for decades. It never contained flour. The only thing I've tweaked post-celiac diagnosis is adding more coffee and vanilla. Just because. And PS: See below why I make this recipe in a food processor- thanks to Bobby Flay. Karina xo

Gluten-Free Goddess Zucchini Breakfast Cake

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