Gluten Free with Dr. Jeri
When I found out I had to go on a gluten-free diet, I knew that if I were to succeed, it would have to be an exercise in creativity, not a punishment. I started by doing research. First, I read several articles that contained lists of foods to be avoided, as well as a few recipes.
Two things struck me when I read the recipes. Many of the older, more traditional gluten-free baked goods contained combinations of at least five different kinds of flour. That meant there would be a major financial investment before I could even try to make one recipe.
The next observation was that the main ingredient in the more traditional gluten-free recipes was often rice flour. The over-the-counter gluten-free breads, cakes and cookies I tried (mostly rice flour) not only tasted terrible, they were heavy as bricks and acted like cement in my digestive tract. While searching the Internet, I came across a book of almond flour recipes. Now that sounded appealing and also much healthier than filling my poor, innocent digestive tract with the gluey horror of rice flour!
While waiting for my new book to arrive, I did more Internet searches. Along with nutritional information and tips about how to cook with various alternative flours, I found hundreds of recipes and started trying some of them out. Who ever said you lose weight when you go on a gluten- free diet clearly does not have a love for baking and creative cookery!
Being a “creative home cook,” I have rarely found a recipe I didn’t think I could improve. I soon found the same to be true of the gluten-free recipes. So I started playing with recipes. At first, I made small adjustments. Then I decided I simply must figure out how to transform all my favorite cake and cookie recipes into the gluten-free marvels I knew they could be.
My tasters were my friends and neighbors, the staff at the hospitals where I work, people in classes I attended along with the folks at the local computer club and writers’ association. Besides having lots of people to test my recipes, what better way to make new friends than to feed them? When the NON-gluten-free folks in the groups started telling me they didn’t care whether there was gluten in my baked goods or not, they were just good, I knew I had succeeded!
Besides being born with an overwhelming need to feed my immediate world, I have always shared recipes with friends, co-workers and patients. In my holistic medical practice, talking about diets to maintain optimal health has always been a priority. Simply telling someone to eat healthy food often goes in one ear and out the other. Showing them how by passing out delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes gives them the tools they need to start making changes. And so, I passed out recipes.
When I had to go on a gluten-free diet, the impetus to share was no different. I had a favorite little patient who suffered from Celiac disease. Her mother was frustrated because she couldn’t come up with enough healthy, appealing recipes to satisfy her child. So I brought them a number of my recipes.
When I mentioned what I had done to one of the nurses, she told me that her daughter also had Celiac disease and was always looking for new recipes. So I made copies of my recipes for her too. It soon became clear that wherever I went, someone I met was on a gluten-free diet or had a family member who needed to be. I soon got into the habit of carrying recipes to every hospital and clinic where I worked, and then shared them with anyone who was interested.
After years of sharing recipes with friends and patients, many have suggested that I write a cookbook. It has taken me four years to create mouth-watering, gluten-free versions of all my favorite foods. When you look through the recipes in this book, you will discover lots of appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes and even a few cookies and muffins that are high protein, high fiber, low glycemic and suitable for most healthy eating regimens, but this is not a diet book. When I set out to create gluten-free versions of my favorite foods the list most definitely included my favorite comfort foods and, as promised in the title, pastries that are delightfully decadent.
I firmly believe that we all need to treat ourselves once in a while. When I lived in New Mexico, we had a huge community potluck every Sunday. I used the setting to indulge my own love of baking. I ate satisfying and nutritious meals all week, choosing lots of veggies, salads, lean proteins and fruits while I studied cookbooks so that I could come up with the most decadent desserts imaginable for the potlucks. On Sundays, I would have a little of everything that looked good, along with a modest serving of my killer dessert. Not only did I never feel deprived, it was the only time in my adult life that I could fit into size six jeans!
I believe the best way to maintain a restrictive diet is to set aside special times when indulgence is allowed. Telling someone they have to give up one of their favorite pleasures forever is a sure way to guarantee failure, but anyone can be sensible for six days!
This does NOT mean you can eat gluten on Sundays. If you’re like me, you will have symptoms for a couple weeks each time you cheat. It does mean that even if you have high cholesterol, it’s OK to have a single serving of something special once a week or once a month, in order to satisfy your cravings and avoid becoming so frustrated that you just chock up the whole idea of healthy eating.
I tell my patients there is no such thing as cholesterol on Christmas, Thanksgiving and their birthday. I encourage you to set aside special occasions to treat yourself, and when you do, eat the good stuff!
I hope my recipes will satisfy your cravings and help you maintain your gluten-free life style without ever missing what you left behind.
Toffee Covered Coffee Cake
Gluten-Free Cranberry Nut Muffins
Gluten-Free Banana Blueberry Muffins
Jeri’s Quinoa Salad
Jeri’s Spinach and Feta Crustless Quiche
Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins
Honey and Spice Muffins
Microwaveable Mini Chocolate Cake
Orange and Grand Marnier Mini-Muffins
Microwave GF Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
Hearty Shiitake Mushroom Stew
Dr. Jeri’s Gluten-Free Curried Red Lentils