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The Joy of Food

gluten free birthday cake

Up until now, I have kept my posts short and (mostly) impersonal. Today I want to do something different. I am going to explain a few main components of my diet.

Yes, I do have celiac disease. And yes, I am gluten free. However, I consider my diet to be far beyond gluten free. I do not eat grains or sugar. I do not eat potatoes, corn or soy. I gave up dairy a few months ago, though you will find recipes with it on this site as I do use dairy in dishes I make for my family.

As I usually say when asked about my diet, “let me tell you what I DO eat, this will far simpler.” I eat a combination of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish, chicken, buckets of olives and of course a bit of agave. While many people think this is a restrictive diet, I have found it to be one upon which I thrive. I feel good when I eat these foods, beside which, not only are these ones my body can absorb and digest, I can make so many fun combinations from them –think sorbet.

People often ask, how do I know if there is gluten in this food or that? These questions always, without exception, regard processed foods. My answer –I don’t use a lot of processed items as there is no way to be certain that they are free of gluten and other hidden ingredients that my body rebels against.

Many of the foods that are commonly allergenic did not exist in their current, peculiar, omnipresent forms a century ago –think peanut oil, high fructose corn syrup and soy –cheap, subsidized products pervasive in today’s processed foods.

Flavoring? Lemon juice and garlic make great marinades. Once in a while you will find a processed condiment on this site such as toasted sesame oil, dijon mustard or ume plum vinegar –I have found these to be pure, with few ingredients, all of which I can pronounce. However, I do steer clear of tamari sauce (even the wheat free type), Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and all those other of flavor makers. I like to make my own combination and find that mother nature provides amazing ingredients.

I love preparing my own food. First, I know what’s in it, which eliminates the fear factor and increases the pleasure of eating. Next, I like to flavor things exactly to my mood, the time of day or the season. Most of all, I believe that digestion starts in the eyes and hands, not just the mouth. Touching my food lets my body take it in on many sensory levels before it even hits my tongue.

Simplify. Satisfy. Eating the old fashioned way, shopping for good organic food, in season, touching and preparing my food is a passion of mine, not a restriction. Although many items are not on my meal plan, I am overwhelmed at times, such as when I walk through our farmer’s market, at the cornucopia of things that I can eat!


posted on August 15, 2007, 53 comments

  1. Michele

    Excellent article, Elana.

  2. Dear Michele-

    Thanks so much for your comment! I really appreciate it.

    Elana

    • Kgositsile Johnson

      Your words give me some hope. I am allergic to wheat, soy, corn, glycerine, certain oils, sometimes nuts and milk. Because of soy, I can’t use soy sauce in stir fries. I am still trying to find a substitute for soy sauce. If you know of any, please let me know. I get so frustrated in what to eat, I wind up eating something I crave which is bad for me.

      • Rachel W.

        Hey, I rececntly saw a Coconut Amnios in our local Vegan Store. It is “soy free” and “corn free”. I am also allergic to corn and gluten intolerant. This may be an option for you if you can have coconut. Hope this helps.

      • Donna Stallings

        I found a good soy free sauce recipe online. It uses beek stock, basalmic vinegar, molasses, and galic powder. You just reduce it down to 1/2 and then add any salt if wanted. Very easy and tastes remarkably like soy sauce. I don’t remember the exact measurements off hand, but you can find the recipe online. I make my family’s dishes with it and nobody can tell the difference. I just typed in soy free soy sauce recipe in the search area.

  3. I keep coming back to your website because it is so unique and exactly what I need. You are right it is not just the gluten free but the lactose and soy free as well as the unadulterated fresh foods that we need for our health to flourish. I just tried the Chocolate Cream Pie which is to die for. I was so happy to have a nice creamy desert that didn’t make me sick. Thanks for sharing all your talents with everyone!

  4. Dear Diane,

    Thanks so much for your kind words.

    Elana

  5. Elyse

    I stumbled on your website about 6 months ago because I was looking for healthy recipes and food that made me feel good sans wheat,dairy, or sugar. I told my doctor about your recipes and she was eager to get them. Thanks for giving people a simple yet delicious collection of recipes (I’ve loved everything I’ve tried) to satisfy love of food and the goal of regaining health.

  6. elana

    I came across your website when a co-worker gave me the website. My name is Elana too and I am gluten free and dairy free. The desire to eat better and simply is one our whole society needs to do in order to create peace for our stomachs and our planet. Too many times I see people in my own office with a set of tums at their desks and then wolfing down a burger from lunch which they know will just sit there the rest of the day. So thanks for a great website with such tempting pics!

  7. Elyse -Thanks for your nice comment; I especially like the part about “to satisfy love of food and goal of regaining health.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Elana -Thanks so much for your comment!

  8. Elana–This entry is the one that made me fall in love with your site. I was amazed that I had found someone else who didn’t eat grains, corn, soy, dairy or potatoes.

    I’m really still stuck a bit on red potatoes and brown rice. I feel like I need more variety sometimes than veggies, fruit and protein and I love your site for that reason. You’ve made me see that there are other options with almond flour and coconut flour.

    I would love(if the inspiration ever hits you) to see a log of what you typically eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner over a period of a few days. I know that is asking a lot but maybe if you ever feel so inclined. I just seem to still have gaps and holes that I’m trying to fill when it comes to my go-to foods.

    Thanks for all of your excellent work. I had dinner last night at someone else’s home and as they passed around chocolate cookies, I was thrilled when I realized I had plenty of yummy treat options back at home that I could make that would be even more fulfilling then what was in front of me. I owe that to you and your excellent site.

    Thanks!

  9. Hi Eden,

    Thanks so much for you sweet comment. What I eat is probably not all that inspiring. A lot of leftover protein (from the night before) for breakfast and tons of salad (during the summer), mixed in with some of the treats and lots of the entreesw found on this site. Leftovers are the key though, they save time on constantly cooking. Sometimes dessert for breakfast, though I try to do that on only the most rare of occasions as it’s not so great on my blood sugar.

    I am so glad to hear your story about dinner at someone else’s home last night! That reminds me of what I do. I go home and eat something yummy and don’t feel deprived at all. Or, sometimes I’ll go home and make a healthier/gf version of whatever was served for dessert at the party –it can be inspiration rather than deprivation.

    Elana

  10. Connie Tuttle

    Just found your site and it’s great! I thought I would never find recipes for goodies made without grain.

    The doctor has me on a gluten free diet and says I may also be prediabetic. The dietitican has suggested stevia. Do think that it would work in your recipes instead of agave nector. She is afraid agave will spike my blood sugar. I am trying to control this with diet. Thanks

  11. Connie,

    Please see my faq’s for the answer to this and other frequently asked questions.

    Best,
    Elana

  12. Theresa

    Dear Elana,

    I recently came upon your website searching for gluten free recipes. I have tried several after ordering the almond flour that you suggested. I have cooked with various nut and coconut flours in the past and many times were disappointed — I am encouraged after reading your response about RedMill flours and am looking forward to spending the weekend in my kitchen. I don’t have celiac’s but I believe that I have some sensitivity to gluten and dairy. When I eat gluten and/or dairy I get bloated and feel achey so I have now eliminated these items from my diet and am feeling much better. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful recipes — I go on your site everday and print a few.
    May God bless you and your family,
    Theresa (Merritt Island, Florida — yes it is raining and raining and raining)

  13. Theresa,

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

    I hope you are enjoying the recipes and staying safe with all of this weather.

    Elana

  14. Shawna

    Hi Elana~

    Thanks so much for all the great recipes and ideas on your site. I’m working in Korea with my husband who’s celiac and we’re trying to go off dairy right now too. I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately and was really encouraged by this upbeat post. It’s so inspiring that you focus on all the delicious foods that are still available to you. I’m excited to try some of your recipes soon :)

  15. Shawna,

    Thanks for your kind words. I hope you are well over there in Korea.

    Elana

  16. Lisa

    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes and information you share at your website. Have you considered sprouting wheat berries to be used in your recipes. I believe sprouted wheat does not contain gluten. After I sprouted wheat berries, I dehydrate them for 4-6 hours. Then I grind them into flour to be used for baking cakes. However, sprouted wheat flour causes my cake to be quite wet. Also when I bake bread with sprouted wheat flour, the bread turns out very tough(100% whole wheat flour). I want to use sprouted wheat flour as they have more nutrients. Thank you.

  17. Lisa,

    I haven’t tried sprouted wheat berries as I am one of those people that is so wheat/gluten intolerant that I don’t even do well with wheat grass –it makes me quite ill.

    Thanks for the idea though, it might be of help to others.

    Elana

  18. Emily

    Elana-
    What a sweet and encouraging post. I find myself feeling left out on days like Thanksgiving and family gatherings because I am gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy free due to severe allergies. This was a good reminder that I should be happy to be eating so healthy and with exciting options and food combinations! One question for you; why do you avoid corn?

  19. Emily,

    Thanks for your sweet comment.

    I avoid corn, potatoes, rice, other grains, etc. as I do not digest them very well.

    Elana

  20. Mary

    Hi Elana,

    I’m enjoying your site and recipes very much. Do you have a source for the almond flour that is organic? Also, would it make a difference in your recipes if I just ground my own flour out of almonds with the skins on?

    Thanks.

    Mary

  21. Mary,

    For organic almond flour, go here.

    For more info on blanched vs. unblanched almond flour, please see my faq.

    Thanks,
    Elana

  22. Rachel B

    I love your positive article on what some of us CAN eat instead of focusing on what we can’t eat. The only thing that is different with me is that I only eat the olives when they are vinegar-free, as vinegar is also on my list.

    And one of my favorite snacks is a cooked yam – sweet and satisfying with nothing added!

  23. Rachel,

    Thanks so much for your comment!

    Elana

  24. Hi Elana,
    I’m new to your site, but have fallen in love with it! I, too, have discovered that my body doesn’t react well to the processed foods, mainly corn products and sugars for me, that are so prevalent now. These so-called restrictions are what allow me to be free and, like you, I have become passionate about cooking and love the challenge of preparing healthy, delicious to the taste, meals for my husband and myself. I recently moved to Philly and love shopping for fresh produce and making that a staple in my diet. Recently, my husband and I have decided to become gluten-free and dairy-free. This is a new, but exciting journey for us, and I’m grateful for your site, and others like yours, that have great advice, recipes, and encouragement for people like me who want to improve their physical state. Thanks again!

  25. Martha,

    Thanks so much for your heartfelt comment. I really appreciate it and am glad you are enjoying my website and recipes!

    Elana

  26. Tracey

    What is in the above photo?? some kind of cake?

  27. Maria

    What a great site you have, Elana! Thank you for that! You have a few recipes with arrowroot powder but doesn’t it contain a lot of starch? Are you able to tolerate it?

  28. Tracey -Indeed! Cake made by a joyful child, who is proudly preening over it in the photo.

    Maria -Yes, you are correct, arrowroot is a starchy food. I do ok with it. If you go to my sidebar and click on the link for “arrowroot” in the purchase section, you will be taken to a site that discusses the healing benefits of this powder. I started using it back in my Ayurvedic days and love it.

  29. Elisabeth Boggs

    May I know how you know that you do not digest corn, potatoes, rice & other grains well? My 3 year old seems to be sensitive to gluten. The pediatrician says he is not a Celiac due to negative blood tests, but his very very loose stools have improved greatly after going GF this last month. We’ve been traveling in Europe this past month so a bit of gluten has slipped into his mouth a few times and he’s gotten diarrhea about 12 hrs later each time. So, now that I’m back in the US, I’ve been pouring through your site as I love well prepared healthy food. It’s a bit overwhelming, though, tryiing to decide how to go about changing the diet for my family. My husband has AS (ankylosing spondylitis – an autoimmune disorder) and I’m tired all the times. So, do you recommend eliminating gluten, potatoes, corn, rice, grains, dairy & soy for a long period of time and then gradually adding back one by one for each person? I’d appreciate any tidbit of advice you have!
    Take care,
    Elisabeth

  30. shanna

    Hi Elana! When I stumbled upon your site I thought to my self…WOW! Someone that eats just like my family and I do! We also adhere to a diet without sugar, dairy, grains, potatoes, corn, soy or anything that is high glycemic. But, I was tired of eating the same old things every day. Your site has inspired me to get back in the kitchen and feel alive again! You are doing a wonderful job and your site is nice and cozy. Thanks :-)

  31. Thank you, Elana, for that very eloquent letter about why those of us who choose to eat they various ways we do, well, do. I appreciate your forthrightness and honesty, as well as your candor. It can be overwhelming to eat specific to our bodies needs, but to explain it to another can even be more overwhelming. I love treating my body well and really honoring it every day, but there are a few people in my life who have a hard time adjusting to this. I like that you call it an eating plan and I like that you are willing to sacrifice the so-called “good” foods lining our grocery shelves to really eat the old-fashioned way – according to what really makes us thrive. Well said.

  32. Lynda

    Dear Elena.
    Like some of the others I found your site looking for a gluten way to live. I found out recently that my diabetes is probably caused but being allergic to wheat, soy and dairy products. It has been an adventure in eating I must say. Your recipes have given me hope that I actually can have a dessert that looks and tastes like a dessert. I have a neice who has Celiacs and I am going to pass this web site to her. Thank you this encourages me to try some experimenting on my own.
    thanks Lynda

  33. leighannet

    I was so excited to stumble on this site! Someone who cooks with minimally processed, whole, organic ingredients AND is eco-conscious about lifestyle too!! This is my kinda stuff!!
    However, I think there’s probably some confusion about the suggestion that Agave is not “sugar.” You stated that you do not eat sugar, but instead use agave. The fact is that natural forms of sugar are all sugar, whether it is from agave, honey, beet syrup, brown rice syrup, etc. While I applaud (loudly) those efforts to source sugar from more natural forms (HFCS and other “new” sweeteners are digested differently based on their chemical makeup and the alteration of chemical bonds, etc), these sugars are one and the same. Furthermore, only a Registered Dietitian is qualified (with educational and professional proficiency and a national standardized exam) to educate the public on any nutritional topics. Even a responsible MD will direct a patient to an RD for nutrition education and intervention. Please encourage your readers to seek out an RD, and nobody else, as an expert source for nutritional education.
    I look forward to reading your recipes – the ones I have seen so far look delicious!!
    LAT, MS, RD, LD

  34. Samantha

    Thank you so much for putting together this site! I just found it today and was absolutely giddy with the newfound possibilities. I’ve been told in the past year that I am allergic to corn, potatoes, oats, barley, lemon, garlic, onions, mushrooms and bananas and have a strong sensitivity to all grains. It has been TOUGH for me to adjust, but I am thrilled to find a place that isn’t just gluten-free but also corn and potato-free (seemingly the typical gluten substitutes). I’m still trying to figure out how to get some flavor without lemon or garlic, but this really provides me with an excellent start – far better than merely the plain meat and raw veggies I’ve been eating. THANK YOU!!

  35. K Foxman @ kfoxman.com

    Elana, I have to say thank you for running this site! Many of your recipes, particularly desserts, have kept me going these last few months. I was diagnosed with Candida, Candida allergy and leaky gut syndrome…needless to say it’s been quite an adjustment. How do you keep encouraged and stay positive through all the ambiguity of multiple health diagnoses?

  36. I’m very exited to have found your site. I was diagnosed with Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (slowly-progressing Type 1 diabetes) about six months ago and immediately switched to a modified Paleo (I just can’t give up cheese), which has helped my blood sugar control considerably. (My sugar levels came from halfway-to-a-coma to almost non-diabetic.) I love to cook, which is a blessing, and as you mention, it makes it so much easier knowing exactly what is in my food. When I begin insulin treatment, it will take much of the guesswork out of dosages. Anyway, I’m very excited to have found your side. Thank you!

    -Audrey

  37. Melissa McClure @ mcclurefamily.tumblr.com

    Thank you for this! It needs to be on a t-shirt for me to wear. I get asked those questions all the time and I love your responses! Thank you for sharing. :)

  38. Jackie

    Hi Elana, I happened across your site after googling for ‘Gluten Free Leftover Chicken Recipes’ Thanks for the soup recipes etc! I was diagnosed with Celiac a few months ago and am doing my best to meet the challenges of cooking for a family and taking care of myself at the same time. However my Dr advised me, as I am hyper sensitive right now, and also allergic to caffeine and soy, sensitive to dairy and sugar, to do a ‘low fodmap’ diet also. My Husband is also allergic to nuts! We are producers of Grass Fed Beef, so that is a huge advantage, but recipes for low fodmap are few and far between, and getting a good balance of nutrition is very difficult. Do you have any ideas or suggestions??
    Thanks so much.

  39. Thank you for your beautifully written post. This is exactly how I feel myself. It’s not a restriction; rather, it is a gift! Eating healthy foods that do us no harm. The way nature intended.

  40. Ellynn Brown

    Elana, I really enjoy going to your website for wonderful recipes. You are an inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to share with us. I have recommended your website to so many people. You are my top ‘go to’ place.

  41. Linda

    Thanks for the great recipes. I have adapted them to my no dairy, soy, eggs, gluten, & sugar baking…..but I am allergic to almonds. I have done your recipes with pecan butter or sunflower seed butter & they are ok. Have you thought of expanding to another nut meal for baking to get variety in your cooking?

  42. Courtney Stultz @ lphjkitchen.com

    Thank you for your post! In the last year I have learned I have gluten sensitivity and autoimmune issues. I started a little blog to help track my eating and give me some type of outlet. My doctor also gave me a list of helpful resources and that is where I found your site! I’m so thankful I did! Love your recipes!!

  43. Penny Ngai

    Hi,

    Just wanted to say, I have loved your site from the day I found it…and I think I know why now. You stated it so elegantly- others think of diets like yours and mine as restrictive, but really it is so freeing to eat food that makes your body feel fabulous! THANKS for helping me do that more simply than I had been prebviously. But- that leads to a personal queston…something I fear more than anything is going out to eat. I actually would prefer never to do it, but it is a must when travelling, andhonestly, to appease my family at times. How do you deal with that?? I find that I have become more and more sensitive to possible cross contamination, so that even places I have been able to tolerate in the past will make me regret eating there now.

    Thanks for everyting!!

    Penny

  44. Barbara

    I use coconut amino acids in place of Bragg’s, I always thought Bragg’s was supposed to be so good for your many years ago, then I found out it was soy based anyway. Elana do you have any information regarding Coconut Amino Acid?

  45. Vale

    Hi!
    I find really great that you found the “diet” that suits your body needs and limits.
    I was diagnosed banana, egg, milk, red meet, gluten intolerant.
    While gluten provokes diarrea, egg and banana provokes constipation. So I have lived all my life, until 1 year ago, constipated. It is sad, dangerous and painful.
    I think we should all take our kids to the food-allergist to make sure we are really nourishing them.
    However my diagnose, I noticed long time ago, that porc, canned tuna and canned tomato also provokes so much acne. Also, grains (a plate of corn pasta for example) would block me as gluten…so I am slowly eating raw vegetables, fish & little amounts of chicken! Apparently, a very similar diet like you.
    But with the time, I meet so many people with the same problems and same solution.
    What I wonder is: do we have any phisical common factor? Which is it? Blood? Genetics? Environment ? How knows….

  46. Linda

    You really are an inspiration to all whether we have food limitations or not.
    I LOVE your site as your recipes make it so easy for us to enjoy food again. I no longer look at my restrictions as a punishment, but as the freedom and knowledge to give my body what it’s been crying for. The only question I have is how do you deal with eating out with friends & family? I’m finding it to be quite a challenge. Do you have any tips that you can share?
    Again, Thank you for all you do for us. I will never be able to express my gratitude fully.

  47. Nic

    Just need to say thanks for the personal info. Your site has been a blessing to me as my son is free of most of the things you mentioned as he is ADHD/asperges/dyslexic etc, and I have realized the need to take him back to simple, real food. I love having your posts come through with simple healthy ideas. Has helped shape my attitude toward what treats can be. My whole family has benifitted from this lifestyle change which makes me grateful that we were forced to do it. Keep up the good work.

  48. Lynda Abeyta

    I too follow a very similar diet as you. I find it makes my life simpler and I don’t get sick (as much). I have cross reactivity which means my body gets mixed up on what is gluten free and what is not. Reacting like I’ve eaten gluten when I haven’t, NO FUN. I just wanted to say that my Nutritionist says that Agava is not good for people. The way it is processes makes it High Fructose. She writes about it in her book “Food isn’t what it used to be” By Christine Andrew
    Good Luck

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top