Gluten-Free Adventuring

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."

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. (Kim O'Donnel)

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.

Gluten-free scones with blueberries. (Kim O'Donnel)

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, 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.

Whole Foods Market

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.

Online shopping: Gluten Smart and

Share your gluten-free pearls of wisdom, recipes or any additional celiac tidbits in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  August 8, 2007; 11:09 AM ET Gluten Free
Previous: Planning a Last Supper | Next: What to Eat When You're Already Cooked


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Just a tip for the gluten-free diner, Lilit Cafe on Old Georgetown in Bethesda has an extensive offering of gluten free fare. I have no affiliation with the cafe except that I enjoy their food and service.

Posted by: amyfp | August 8, 2007 12:38 PM

My son is allergic to wheat so we only go to gluten free restaurants such as Outback, Carrabba's, Bonefish, PF Chang, and Burger King. Does anyone have any recommendations on non-chain restaurants in the DC area?

Posted by: Gluten free DAD | August 9, 2007 12:08 AM

I've been trying live GF for almost two years now. My greatest accomplishment, after giving up all the obvious 'bad' stuff, was going after salad dressing. I eat so many salads and really disliked the sweet taste of most GF bottled dressings. I've finally broken free and simply put extra light tasting olive oil on my salad, with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. What a revelation!

Posted by: patty in georgia | August 9, 2007 7:39 AM

Hello - You are all welocme to try our line of "free-from" cakes, brownies, cookies, biscotti's and bars. We are, and - small world - we are based in London, UK. We are 100% organic across all of our lines, and have 13 of our 80+ lines that are Glutern or Wheat or Dairy or Gluten & Dairy free. Our shopping cart will be available as of the end of August (in 3 weeks) and we will happily post them to you anywhere in the world (shelf-life allowing). Best, Adrian, www,

Posted by: Adrian | August 9, 2007 9:03 AM

Hi! Rustico on Slater's Lane off the GW Parkway in Alexandria has gluten-free pizza on its menu as an option, and also serves (among many choices) wheat-free beer, which is good. Ask Aaron, the bartender for the wheat-free beer!

Posted by: Kate in Alexandria | August 9, 2007 9:51 AM

Kate, thanks for the tip! I make pizza at home sometimes, but the option to EAT OUT has me nearly giddy! Can't wait to check Rustico out!

Posted by: Hungry for Pizza | August 9, 2007 9:57 AM

Did you know that Outback is gluten-free for celiac sufferers? They also support the Celiac organization.

Posted by: Arlene Hughes | August 9, 2007 10:22 AM

Thanks for the article on gluten free food. Don't forget Bette Hagman's Gluten Free Gourmet cookbooks or the Gluten Free Pantry mixes which have been pioneers in the field! We've depended on them since 1996. Also, Wegman's has carried gluten free products for years and Trader Joe's has lists available of their gluten free foods.

Posted by: Mother of Celiac | August 9, 2007 10:25 AM

I second the recommendation for Lilit Cafe! They also have the wheat-free beer and lots of yummy desserts. Yes! Organic Food Stores have a lot of good options. I know there is one in Cleveland Park and one in Adam's Morgan.

For Pizza, Amy's Kitchen cornmeal and rice crust pizza are very good. Different texture than normal pizza crust but I prefer it.

I am having lots of trouble finding gluten-free restaurants in DC though.

Posted by: Meg in DC | August 9, 2007 10:28 AM

Legal Sea Food (in Penn Quarter) also has a celiac-friendly menu. And the Roots Market in Clarksville has a vegan restaurant associated with it called Great Sage (

Posted by: neccoboy | August 9, 2007 10:44 AM

Mexican restaurants can serve gluten-free, but you may have to ask for corn tortillas, since wheat tortillas seem to be trendy now. SE Asian restaurants should have many wheat-free dishes available too. Vietnamese and Thai cuisines center mainly on rice pastas.

Posted by: margaret lauterbach | August 9, 2007 10:53 AM

All of the Great American restaurants (Sweeetwater, Costal Flats, Arties, Carlyle Grand) have gluten free menus. I'm a happy diner whenever I visit any of these restaurants. So much better than going to Outback or PF Changs!

Posted by: Stuck @ Work | August 9, 2007 10:56 AM

My mom recently discovered a wheat allergy and was visiting DC this weekend. We went to a couple of nice places (1789 Restaurant in Georgetown and Equinox downtown) and both had plenty of GF options and checked with the cooks to make sure there was no wheat. 1789 had a wheat-free chocolate dessert that was great. I made a lemon meringue pie with a crust made from ground pecans, unsweetened/untreated shredded coconut, and melted butter - delicious! I also recommend this GF lemon layer cake from epicurious for a birthday treat: I've used the brown rice flour mix as a 1:1 wheat flour substitute in other recipes and it has worked great.

Posted by: LCS | August 9, 2007 11:06 AM

Oh, for the lemon cake recipe I just posted, in place of the xanthan gum, I used guar gum I got from the vitamin shoppe - worked fine.

Posted by: LCS | August 9, 2007 11:07 AM

How fascinating! My mother and sister are both diabetics and niether are able to process white flour, rice or potatoes (although boxed potato buds is ok). Can you tell me if your gluten-free flour works with diabetics?

Thanks, Cheers, Sara

Posted by: Sara King | August 9, 2007 12:16 PM

Check out the gluten-free mixes available from King Arthur Flour in Norwich,VT. Online at A VERY reputable company.

Posted by: Brooke Jaffe | August 9, 2007 1:07 PM

Sara, Unlike a gf diet, many diabetics now follow the glycemic index and try to avoid eating foods that causes a rapid rise in blood sugar. Potatoes and rice are very rapid, therefore avoided. Whole grains are better, but usually not gf. When I (diabetic) eat with gf friends, we avoid both. I think where everyone agrees is that we all avoid white flour.

Posted by: bij | August 9, 2007 1:25 PM

Austin Grill (various DC locations) has a dedicated gluten-free menu. Just ask the host or hostess for one. Although it's not as extensive as the regular menu, there are lots of choices. Restaurant Nora and Asia Nora are particularly good at understanding accommodating the gf diet.

Posted by: Pete | August 9, 2007 2:00 PM

I am so utterly thrilled to see this discussion of gluten-free living in a newspaper like The Washington Post! This makes so many lives easier.

Thank you for linking to my website. Yes, it has been pretty personal over there lately (the Chef and I just got married, so there has been a couple of months of swoony gushing), but we're returning to the food now.

Blueberry-apricot crisps, Moroccan lamb stew, great gluten-free hamburger buns, and more. The food always inspires stories of the people I ate it with, and the places we were sitting when we were feeling blessed, but it always comes back to the food.

That's our path to healing.

Posted by: shauna | August 9, 2007 2:42 PM

Just heard from Jules Shepard, who reports that she has just signed a deal to write a book "The First Year Celiac
Disease: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed," to be published by Perseus Books in the fall of 2008.

Thanks to all of you for such useful extras on GF eating and dining out. Keep it coming!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | August 9, 2007 3:57 PM

Glutino has a very good line of GF products, especially Cheese and Raisin
breads - Pizza crusts are also good. They
are available in the U.S.

Posted by: Patsy | August 9, 2007 4:58 PM

Being both Gluten free and diagnosed with a soy allergy, it has been a challenge to find products and restaurants without both...many GF products do contain soy flour, soy lecithin, and the long list goes on. I appreciate any suggestions and recommendations on that front, although I have learned worlds since adding Gluten to my "free" diet as of last year. Bob's Red Mill makes a great GF pancake mix, by the way, that's also soy free!!!

Posted by: Shani | August 9, 2007 9:49 PM

This article and all the comments have been awesome! Within the last 3 months I have been diagnosed with both gluten and soy allergies as well, and wow do I miss pizza! And granola! I am a medical student, therefore time is of the essence, so I just find myself eating rice cakes ALL the time. This is not a diet for people on the go! If anyone knows of any chocolate without soy lecithin, prepackaged items, or good restaurants in Cleveland the are gluten and soy friendly - please post! Sorry to not have any suggestions, but hopefully soon!

(I also love the pancake mix mentioned above, even more than the pancakes that I made before I was GF!)

Posted by: Liz | August 9, 2007 10:54 PM

Have learned during my 12 years with CD:

Gluten-Free Pantry
~pancake mix is great as a general purpose flour substitute

Menu Direct
kids' foods
chicken nuggets, cake mix, etc

Bagels, pretzels, chocolate o's (like oreos; good to use for pie crust/cheesecake crust) Bagels (sesame, raisin/cinnamon...often sold in health food stores and a great treat)

El Peto
The best bread for sandwiches

Foods By George
English muffins, pasta, frozen pasta dishes, pizza

Mr. Ritt Bakery in Philadelphia
great sugar cookies and holiday cookies
birthday cakes!

Mary's Gone Crackers
Fantastic crackers to keep in bag and eat when others are having bread with a meal or to serve with cheeses, etc.
angel food cake
muffins, scones, breakfast stuff
You can contact me directly with any further questions at

Posted by: Maribeth | August 10, 2007 12:38 AM

for the corn flour in the mix, if i put corn meal in the food processor will that make corn flour? I make oat flour this way. can not find corn flour at the market.

Posted by: Francie in Florida | August 10, 2007 5:43 PM

As to the difficulty in finding corn flour, I have heard that issue in some parts of the country. Of course you can always order gf corn flour from sites such as or request that your local store carry it, but if you want to make it NOW (which I totally understand!) you can use the finest grain of corn meal and grind it in the food processor. As long as the final product feels in your fingers more like a flour and less like corn meal, you should be fine! Best of luck!

Posted by: Jules | August 13, 2007 12:07 AM

thank you Jules, I will try the corn meal and let you know how it turns out.

Posted by: Francie in florida | August 13, 2007 5:38 PM

My husband and I had a wonderful gluten-free dinner at the Tabard Inn in DC last night. When he made the reservation, he told them that I was gluten-free. Our waiter came to the table with notes on his menu saying what I could and could not eat and was prepared with recommendations for substitutions. After so many discouraging attempts to explain "gluten-free" to waiters and cooks (and so many times saying "ok, then I guess I'll just have the salad with oil and vinegar as a dressing"), the Tabard Inn was pure delight.

If anyone else has any DC/Northern Virginia restaurant recommendations, I'd love to hear more.

Posted by: rw | August 16, 2007 3:06 PM

In case you come to New Mexico and to Albuquerque, Paisono's will serve many items on their menu gluten free. Their manager has celiac disease. I am in no way related or have any financial interest in this restaurant. They serve GF pizzas and GF pasta, in addition to GF sandwiches at noon with GF bread. Delicious!! They have a delicious chocolate cake (GF) for dessert.

Posted by: Lorraine Johnson | August 19, 2007 3:59 PM

Liz--I too am GF in the Cleveland area, relatively new to it as well, but with a mother that has been educating me (and pushing me to get tested) for a couple years now. I've found a few good GF places around here, though I can't say much about soy free, as I'm not allergic.
Mint Cafe (coventry) has great Thai food. Just tell them what you are allergic to and they will do a good job of watching out for it in all ingredients.
Cafe Tandoor (clev. hts) good Indian food--when I asked about GF she went through the menu w/me--there were only a few things that DID contain gluten.
Lopez (clev. hts) has amazing Mexican/southwest food with a good selection of GF options (you have to ask, some waiters are knowledgeable, some are not.) Also, they serve Tortilla chips that are safe (fried on site in a dedicated fryer). Since the eating bread while you wait days are over, it's really nice to go somewhere while you can snack while you wait.
Chipotle: about the only place I can go for "fast" food anymore. Just make sure they change gloves between making that last burrito and get yours in a bowl.
**Alteiri's--this one is all the way in Stow, but if you are ever in the area, they have GF pizza and it is AMAZING! The crust is actually chewy.

Also, good for buying GF foods in general are Whole Foods, Heinens and Trader Joes. Very good selection.

Hope this helps a bit!

Posted by: Emily | August 20, 2007 10:24 PM

The best chocolate I have found that is dairy and gluten free (and I believe soy free as well is chocolate decadence. I don't believe it is all gluten-free but it is all dairy-free and delicious! It is hard to find though but you can get it online.

Also wax orchards makes a great fudge topping for ice cream. They sell it at My Organic Market in Rockville or you can get it online.

Posted by: Chocolate | August 21, 2007 8:12 AM

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