Today's Food section includes my profile of Jules Shepard and her gluten-free journey. Shepard, who lives in Catonsville, Md., has celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder that makes eating gluten a living nightmare. Shepard shares the ins and outs of her adventures in perfecting a gluten-free flour mix and a few recipes from her book, "Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating."
While writing the story, I tested Shepard's recipes for gluten-free scones, chocolate chip cookies and pizza dough. All of the linked recipes include how-to details for Shepard's trademarked "All Purpose Nearly Normal Gluten-Free Flour Mix," a combination of softer starches and flours that mimic the taste and texture of whole-wheat flour. The chocolate chip cookies are undetectable in their gluten-free qualities - you'd never know the difference. The scones are fluffier than their whole wheat-based counterparts, but as Shepard promised, they are packed with flavor and offer texture without being dry. And the pizza dough is a nice surprise, chewy yet soft, rising just enough to make it a respectable gluten-free facsimile. Mister Mighty Appetite agreed that Shepard's version could be made in mixed company, satisfying both sides of the gluten fence.
To contact Shepard about upcoming cooking classes or to join her e-mail list, visit her Web site, Nearly Normal Cooking.
For more information on celiac disease and the latest from the medical and research fronts:
University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, founded by Dr. Alessio Fasano, who's featured in my story
Celiac Disease Foundation, a membership-based advocacy organization with local and state chapters around the country
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, with an emphasis on educating the public and the media on celiac disease
Celiac.com, a portal for news on celiac disease and gluten-free eating and cooking, with an extensive "gluten-free mall."
The Gluten-Free Blogosphere
A sampler of the huge buffet of blogs on gluten-free cooking and eating:
Gluten-Free Girl chronicles the gluten-free life and times of Seattle-based blogger Shauna James Ahern. The blog is heavy on the personal stories but also offers an extensive collection of gluten-free recipes. Ahern's book, "Gluten-Free Girl," is due out in October.
Karina's Kitchen: Recipes from a [Gluten-Free] Goddess, has a vegetarian emphasis, with lots of recipes and resources.
Celiac Chicks, written by two women in New York, with an emphasis on GF dining out and GF products
The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking is the work of Austin, Tex.-based blogger Karen Morgan, whose focus is on desserts, with a little art history lesson on the side.
To date, there are two quarterly publications with a gluten-free focus: Living Without Magazine and Gluten-Free Living
Washington area stores carrying gluten-free flours and ready-to-eat baked goods, frozen foods, etc:
David's Natural Market, in three Maryland locations: Bel Air, Columbia and Gambrills.
My Organic Market, with four locations in Maryland and one store in Alexandria, Va.
Roots Market, in Clarksville and Olney, Md.
Shepard also suggests sleuthing out Asian markets, which typically carry tapioca starch and rice flour, often at lower prices, but with a caveat: These products are exported from Thailand and other parts of Asia, without a gluten-free label or information about the processing, which is becoming more common in North America and Europe. In fact, earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal to officially define "gluten-free" for voluntary labeling of products without wheat, barley, rye or any combination thereof, effective in 2008. Stay tuned.
Share your gluten-free pearls of wisdom, recipes or any additional celiac tidbits in the comments area below.
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