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If you could eat gluten, would you? The option is one step closer.

The big question- if you could suddenly eat gluten again, would you?

The big question...


There may be a celiac vaccine in our future.

That's the word from Down Under this month. An Australian biotechnology company called ImmusanT, Inc. is developing an immunotherapeutic vaccine for celiac disease. And guess what? The Phase 1 clinical trial went swimmingly.  Read about their positive results here at the NFCA's Celiac Central.

It's a very odd feeling to imagine eating gluten again, after almost ten years of banishment. A decade of shunning gluten is no small feat. In a food culture that worships wheat, and elevates the gentle science of baking to both a high art (think crusty, fresh baked baguette) and a low art (say, pizza pockets), living gluten-free is akin to attempting to mambo in a minefield.

Gluten lurks everywhere.

Not only where you’d anticipate it (pizza, bagels, beer) but in sly, coy disguises, hiding in plain sight (soy sauce, broth, herbal tea). And even the most modest of amounts (a few stray crouton crumbs, perhaps) can trigger one’s hyper-vigilant immune system and ignite a fiery swath of digestive destruction, albeit mostly invisible to the naked eye (unless, like me, you are doubly blessed with symptoms and sport the eruptive skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis).

Feelings akin to those sticky, fluttery uncertainties (if not subtle panic) one feels dodging the unbidden proposal of matrimony (or tip-toeing backwards on a Sunday morning walk of shame) begin to trickle in.

Is this something I really want?

And would I, if I could?



Would I take the shot and blissfully chow down a warm chocolate croissant (my most missed food)? Or would I bolster myself with the conviction that gluten remains universally toxic- and I, for one, am not interested in a toxic relationship?

Would I decide that living gluten-free is the way I would choose to live, even if I didn’t have to?

I yawned awake the other day, shaking off a heated, dreamless torpor, thinking about celiac disease and gluten-free blogging. I’ve been sharing my recipes for almost six years now. My intention was to help others wrestling with the same demons I was. Somehow, knowing I was connecting with other cilia-impaired folks kept me from navel gazing and obsessing on my own dietary restrictions, and inspired me to immerse myself in the life I was given- a gluten-free wheat-free life by necessity (and design, if one factors in genetics).

I started pondering the multifaceted topic of identity and whether or not I identified myself as a celiac.

Does celiac disease define me?

I wrote to my family and friends on Facebook-


Woke with a gnawing realization. I don't desire to be the poster child for celiac disease. I share my recipes because it helps others. But I don't identify with my disease. It is not who I am, or where my heart is.

Having a gene that predisposes me to an autoimmune disease is only one small aspect of who I am. Just like eye color (hazel green), or my inability to whistle, the piece of me that is celiac does not define me as a person.

When I pause a moment to self reflect, I feel as a woman, first. I think as a mother, a wife and partner. I see as an artist, a lover of music and words and paint.

I never glance in the mirror and think, I am a celiac.

I gain no insight by framing myself in this way- by my disease.

I do not define myself by my limitations.

If I did, I would have to include my lifelong nearsightedness, and my proclivity to navigate space poorly, and lose my high center of gravity balance. I would share with you that I am a woman with a tricky uterus who was unable to give birth without surgical intervention. I would list my dizzying fear of heights (and dark, confined spaces). I would sketch you an image of an asymmetrical jaw and arthritic hands.

But I am not the sum of my cranky, imperfect parts.

The I of who I am rests somewhere in the space created each time I breathe, in and out. Who I am is how I feel, and I feel with my heart. I am all the choices I have ever made, from my very first cry. A million choices, tiny and forgotten, and big, deep, life changing decisions. I am my mistakes, and my failures. Those remain in me longer than any success.

The scars I have earned have knitted me with strength.

I listen. I watch. I dream.

Who I am changes. And who I am remains the same.

Does gluten have a say in this? I vote no.

Will I get the celiac vaccine and eat gluten in the future?

More will be revealed.

And what about you- will you?





 

TRENDING

Cape Cod Apple Cake with Cranberries (Gluten-Free)

Sweet and Tart.   No philosophy today. Dust off your cake pan, Babycakes. This is a moist and tender apple cake laced with a hint of cinnamon and studded with fresh tart berries. After seven   twelve   - er, 19!- years of baking various gluten-free incarnations of my tried and true family apple cake recipe, this could be our favorite. Maybe it's the sweet-tart combo. The subtlety of flavors. In a food culture obsessed with kicking up recipes with more for the sake of more (white chocolate peanut butter bacon swirled maple donut ice cream drizzled in dulche de leche coconut marshmallow syrup and dusted with sugared Meyer lemon zest and shaved cacao, anyone?) the clean and classic flavor contrast of apples and cranberries is somehow new again. Even, refreshing.  I don't need dessert to taste like candy. I like my cake to taste like cake.  You can bake this recipe with eggs and dairy, or vegan alternatives. See options below.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

YES PLEASE.  This award winning budget-friendly Santa Fe inspired vegetarian enchilada recipe is one of those happy accidents that springs from a burst of creative imagination. Or rumbling hunger. In that what-have-we-got-in-the-pantry sort of panic. I was craving the soft and spicy comfort of enchiladas one windy spring night back in 2003, and I had none of the usual suspects on hand (no chicken, or beef, no pinto beans).  But! I had one lovely mother of a sweet potato.  A can of organic black beans.  Some roasted green chiles.  One lonely lime.  And your intrepid Mamacita-Goddess at large thought, Hmmm. Why not? Deliciousness ensued. These wrapped little gems are soft and creamy and a little bit spicy- Just like a certain cook , my point-scoring husband wisecracks. It's the yams, I tell him. Er, sweet potato. I can never tell the difference. Can you? In the end, it doesn't matter.  What matters is how it tastes. And darling, these are so mucho scrumptiou

Gluten-Free Goddess Lemon Yogurt Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake So  I've been jonesing for a cake laced with citrus- not too sweet and not too light. A cake with character and heft.  Something akin to a lovely simple cake I remember liking as a child, a store bought bakery cake called Louisiana Ring made by Freihofer's. The cake featured a hint of orange. The day I decided to bake, I did not have oranges in the pantry- but I did have some lemons, organic Greek yogurt, and plenty of blanched almond flour.  And this simple home baked lemon cake was born.  In time for Spring. Love, Karina xo

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 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 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 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classic cookie made gluten-free. I suppose you could argue that one oatmeal cookie recipe is enough. I mean, how many oatmeal cookie recipes does a person need? To this I answer, at least two. Why? Well, first you have one with raisins (my oatmeal raisin cookies here ). Raisins give oatmeal cookies that old school chewy sneaky nutrition boost. They're old fashioned and comfy cozy. Kinda like spending one of those Saturday afternoons at your Aunt Martha's house, chillin'. Watching Mr. Rogers and laying on the floor with a pile of coloring books. Coloring outside the lines with a beat up box of Crayolas. Wishing the silver crayon was more than a lonely nub. And right at that nub lamenting moment she'd bring you a plate of cookies. Truth is, I never had an Aunt Martha. But I did have a chain smoking platinum blond babysitter who liked martinis a little too much. Or maybe it was gin and tonic. There was ice in the glass. If I was lucky enough to scro